Lexus: The Relentless Pursuit of Problems?

Toyota is going to be recalling 4,500 Lexus LS vehicles in Japan to deal with a problem with the vehicles’ electric steering system, apparently for models with the VGRS system (Variable Gear-Ratio Steering), which adjusts steering effort based on vehicle speed, according to a story from the Associated Press.

Toyota is going to be recalling 4,500 Lexus LS vehicles in Japan to deal with a problem with the vehicles’ electric steering system, apparently for models with the VGRS system (Variable Gear-Ratio Steering), which adjusts steering effort based on vehicle speed, according to a story from the Associated Press.

According to the story, there are complaints that the steering wheel takes too long to adjust the steering feel back to “normal” after a maneuver. Apparently there have been no accidents related to this. Just 12 complaints.

In the U.S., the M.S.R.P. for the top-of-the-line 2010 LS 600h L is $108,800, so presumably if you’re going to be spending that kind of money, you’re going to be rather picky, and more likely to complain about that than, say about the electric power steering system in your Corolla.

 

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However, it occurs to me that not only does this spell more headaches for Toyota—last year the company sold 11,334 LS models in the U.S., and while not all of them came with VGRS, you can be certain that when the word is spread about the situation in Japan, the service departments at U.S. Lexus dealers are going to have to add phone lines—it is probably causing many sleepless nights in engineering and marketing departments of virtually all vehicle manufacturers.

Every manufacturer is availing itself of things like electric power steering, so say nothing of an array of electronics that control everything from heating and cooling to suspension settings. Gears are giving way to silicon. And if it can be assumed that the systems that Toyota uses are no better or worse than that used by anyone else (one could probably argue that the systems used in the flagship Lexus are a cut above, but let’s just level the proverbial playing field), then isn’t it possible that the systems used by everyone else may prove to have some glitches, too?