Last week, BMW submitted a letter to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) announcing a voluntary recall of approximately 198,000 V8 and V12-powered BMW 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars models produced between the 2002 and 2010 model years.
The reason for the recall was a possible leak in the power braking system, potentially causing a vacuum loss and consequent reduction of power braking assistance.
The recall brought back the memory of another automaker, Toyota, that spend most of the 2009 and 2010 rebuilding their brand image that suffered from one of the biggest recalls in the automotive industry.
Jim Henry of bnet.com put together an interesting analysis of the two recalls and their impact on the brands.
A recall of at least 198,000 BMW (BAMXF.PK) and Rolls-Royce models announced on Sept. 30 sounds like a bigger deal than it is. The recall is unpleasant for BMW, which owns both brands, but the recall on the face of it is nothing like as damaging as this year’s Toyota (TM) recalls affecting millions of cars.
Toyota’s image got dinged for the following reasons that in my opinion don’t apply to BMW.
1. Toyota was THE “quality” brand. The Toyota reputation for bulletproof quality is the biggest reason people buy it. For BMW, the biggest reasons for purchase are styling and performance.
A threat to Toyota’s quality image is a threat to the franchise precisely because it’s disillusioning. It’s like finding out former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Mr. Moral Rectitude himself, was sneaking around with hookers.
2. Toyota’s quality reputation had already begun to show some cracks before “The Big One,” unintended acceleration, struck.
True, BMW historically had a reputation for being expensive to maintain. Some wags say BMW stands for “Break My Wallet.” But “expensive to maintain” is distinct from being saddled with a reputation for being “unreliable.” In addition, BMW has also offered free pre-scheduled maintenance for years, and that has probably built up a lot of good will that will help offset the recall.