Global Movement Demands Elimination of Single-use, Disposable Plastics

Calls on Corporations and Governments to Break Free from Plastic

As part of this year’s Earth Day celebrations, #breakfreefromplastic, a global movement backed up by more than 1,100 organizations, including the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), is urging governments worldwide to restrict or eliminate the use of single-use plastics (SUPs), stressing that the unrestrained production and consumption of disposable plastics is bringing on a plastic flood of crisis proportions.

Citing the lead of 36 countries and hundreds of cities and local government units around the world that have already imposed prohibitions or levies on the use of single-use plastics like plastic bags, straws, bottles, cups and cutlery, movement leaders pointed out that more countries and institutions are expected to follow suit as consumer attitudes change and public revulsion over plastic pollution intensifies (report titled Stemming the Plastic Flood is attached) .

“The good news is that more and more countries and cities are starting to take concrete measures to move their constituencies  away from the nightmare of plastic pollution. We expect that increasing public awareness and anger on this issue will help galvanize  other governments to do the right thing by restricting or prohibiting the use and proliferation of disposable plastics, especially when practical and ecological alternatives exist. Corporations that continue to dispense single-use plastics should start designing  waste out of their products, ” said Von Hernandez, Global Coordinator of #breakfreefromplastic.

Taxing or putting levies on the use of SUPs like plastic bags or  banning them outright have proven  effective in encouraging  consumers to shift to alternatives. Such policies are also compelling corporations and institutions to innovate and invest more in research on sustainable alternatives.

To commemorate Earth Day, #breakfreefromplastic  member organizations  around the world have initiated various activities asking corporations and governments to break free from plastic.   For our part, CAP conducted an awareness raising  programme for children in Penang Suya Meiyarivagam centre in Gelugor.  We explained to the children why we need to stop using single-use plastics such as straws, cutlery, water bottle and plastic bags.  Children were also taught how to do composting of organic kitchen waste and making of cloth bags from discarded t-shirts.

CAP and SAM urge the Malaysian government and local authorities to impose bans on non-essential single-use, disposable plastic items.    We need to embrace zero waste systems and live in harmony with nature.

Say No To Plastic! Stop Plastic Pollution!

PRESS RELEASE, 23 April 2018

DANGEROUS AND UNREGULATED ELECTRONIC/ELECTRICAL PRODUCTS IN MARKET

CAP President is surprised how unregulated electrical products can continue to be available

in the market.

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is surprised at how unregulated electrical products can continue to be available in the market. This problem has been highlighted by CAP umpteen times over the years.

There are an alarming number of electronic/electrical products without the Energy Commission-SIRIM label that are being blatantly sold in the market.

More shockingly, the Energy Commission (EC) List of Regulated Electrical Equipment did not include many other products that are commonly used.

Items such as current converters (from alternating to direct current), power supply units in computers, and rechargeable batteries should be regulated because they involve 240 volt alternate current and known to be a potential explosive and a fire hazard in the case of rechargeable batteries.

Even the most common items such as electrical cables do not have either EC or SIRIM approval logo and the Electrical and Electronics Association of Malaysia (TEEAM) had cautioned that many electrical cables manufactured from “poor quality material” has inundated the market.

Substandard electrical cables used in homes are prone to overheating and fire. TEEAM recommended property owners to engage contractors who are certified by EC or a government agency. But how many house owners are aware of who these contractors are and if there is an easy-to-access directory for consumers to search for certified contractors?

According to the Malaysian Electricity Regulations 1994, a Certificate of Approval (CoA) is required for  the importation, retail, advertising or manufacturing of electrical appliances or equipment. Even with CoA from EC, the products have to be sent to the Certification Body Testing Laboratory (CBTL) for consignment test and verification.

If the products fail the test, they will either be returned to its country of origin or be disposed. It is only when the products are tested and verified that EC-SIRIM safety assurance labels are then affixed onto the products. With that the approved products are allowed to be marketed in the country.

With such stringent regulations, it is amazing how the EC and the Customs can allow non EC-SIRIM approved electric products to flood the market. With the existence of such substandard products, consumers are put at high risk of home fires or being electrocuted.

Moreover, it is questionable why adapters/chargers require EC-SIRIM safety assurance labels but rechargeable batteries are not in the 2014 list of “regulated electrical equipment”.

Mobile phones have been around in Malaysia for about 20 years; e-cigarettes, more than 10 years; and power banks, five years. Such devices run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization imposed a temporary ban (1 April 2016 till sometime in 2018) on cargo shipment of such batteries by passenger planes. The reason is due to the fear that the batteries can overheat and cause fires or explosions on airplanes.

The home is supposed to be the safest place but, ironically, 2,717 homes were razed in 2014 and 139 of the fire victims died and 389 of them injured. It was found that 55 per cent of structure fires were caused by electrical problems (arcs, sparks/short circuit, over current/overload and resistance heating).

In fact fire investigations showed that one of the major factors of fires is associated with electrical wiring problems.

Examples of cases involving electrical/electronics equipment mishaps in Malaysia are:

·         On 8 May 2016, an entertainment journalist’s daughter’s smartphone exploded while being charged at her Setiawangsa home.

·         On 19 April 2016, a 30-year-old woman from Cheras was killed from electrocution while using a smartphone that was being charged.

·         A few days after the Cheras case, a 28-year-old Kedahan suffered injuries when his smartphone exploded when he answered an incoming call on his smartphone that was being charged.

·         In mid-November 2015, a man in Gopeng required 6 stitches on his lips after his e-cigarette exploded while in use.

·         On 25October2015, an electronic cigarette device caught fire on a Malindo Air flight en route from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur.

·         In August 2014, a pharmacist was electrocuted while taking a hot shower at her home in Segamat, Johor.

In view of the consequences – possible injuries, death through explosion, fire, or electrocution– the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) reiterates that:

·         The EC and SIRIM should review and expand their list of regulated products as many of the electrical products are not regulated by the EC.

·         At the same time, EC should also raid the market for substandard electrical products that carry fake EC-SIRIM safety assurance labels.

Press Statement, 16 February 2017

Products complaints – What you can do

Defective goods or purchases that do not fit their description can cause consumers a headache. Not only do they hurt the pocket, they can also be dangerous. A faulty electrical product, for example, may start a fire or even cause a fatal injury.
 
An unscrupulous salesman may lie to push his product. When a potential buyer steps into his shop, he is treated like royalty and assured of the product’s quality. But after he has bought the item and discovers that it is not up to standard, he has a hard time getting the item replaced or repaired or getting compensation.

There are laws against such fraudulent practices which make it a criminal offence for traders to make false statements about the goods they sell. According to the Trade Descriptions Act 1972 (amended 1993), any person who applies a false description to any goods as to their fitness for purpose or quality can be fined up to RM100,000 or jailed up to three years or both. A company found guilty of violating this law can be fined up to RM250,000 for the first offence and up to RM500,000 for the second and subsequent offences.

Basically every time you buy goods you make a contract with the seller and the law (Consumer Protection Act 1999) lays down certain implied (i.e. assumed) terms that apply in every contract of sale. In brief the goods that you buy have the following implied guarantees:

  •  Implied guarantee as to title: the buyer has the right to own the goods;
  •  Implied guarantee as to acceptable quality: goods should be fit for all the purposes for which they are normally used, acceptable in appearance and finish, free from minor defects, safe and durable. For example it is no good having a new toaster which works erratically or a new pair of shoes with one heel coming off on your way to work.
  • Implied guarantee that goods comply with description: when goods are sold by description (e.g. through mail order) the goods should correspond with the description, the goods must be as described in terms of size, finish, number of articles and so on. For example your kids much anticipated Mickey and Minnie Mouse cups should not turn out to be plain plastic cups.
  •  Implied guarantee that goods comply with sample: the quality of the goods should correspond with the sample or demonstration model. For example if you select a carpet material from samples in a shop, the seller must supply you with a carpet of materiel which matches the selected sample;
  • Implied guarantee as to fitness for particular purpose: the goods should be reasonably fit for any particular purpose for which they are ordinarily used. For example, imagine you are looking for glue to fix the sole of your shoe which has come off. At a hardware store, the shop assistant sells you a particular type of glue, which he says is good for the purpose. Back home you find the glue is useless for gumming back the sole. What should you do?

In this case, the glue you bought cannot be used for its intended purpose, as recommended by the seller, so you have every right to get a replacement or your money back. However, note that if you had selected the wrong type of glue yourself, without the help of the shop assistant, then he is not liable if the glue proves to be unsuitable for the job.

  •  Implied guarantee as to price: consumers should not pay the supplier more than a reasonable price for goods. For example the consumer is entitled to a refund if the same model of bicycle that he bought for RM400 is being sold at only RM200 in other shops. This implied condition does not apply where the price of the goods is to be decided by any contract agreed by the parties or will be decided later by the parties concerned.
  •  Implied guarantee as to repairs and spare parts: whether involving local or imported goods, spare parts and facilities for repairs should be reasonably available for a reasonable period after the goods are sold. This implied guarantee does not apply if the manufacturer or supplier has informed the buyer that spare parts and repair facilities may not be available.
Who to complain to?

The supplier, manufacturer, importer or the  Consumer Claims Tribunal/Tribunal Tuntutan Pengguna Malaysia, Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri, Koperasi dan Kepenggunaan,

Aras 5, Lot2 G3, Podium2, Presint 2,
Pusat Pendtabiran Kerajaan Persekutuan.
62623 Putrajaya
 
or the nearest branch.of the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism)

 

Toyota’s tall tales? (part1)

toyota-rack-2-aThe left hand side steering rack-end of a Toyota Vios 1.5G that had clocked only 6,827km suddenly bent at the treaded end, immobilising the car. Being still under warranty, the car was sent to a Toyota workshop for an investigation.
 
In its letter dated 5 March 2004 to the owner, Toyota reiterated from an earlier letter:  “… we are certain that the damages were caused by an external impact and not due to product or manufacturing defect. For your information, we had directed our 3 respective and separate organizations to conduct their own independent investigations to evaluate the causes relating to the damage to your Vios. The findings of these respective technical experts are as follows:
 
1.  Goodyear (M) Sdn. Bhd. Findings dated 28 Jan 2004 :

  • Tyre found to be cut through on the side wall (on serial side)
  • The cut could be inflicted by debris on the road.
  • Tyre damaged while in use
2.  T&K Auto Motor Sdn. Bhd. Findings dated 3 Feb 2004 :

  • Based on the physical inspection and examination, the reasonable evaluation is that the Left-hand rack end is bent due to an external impact.
3.  UMW Toyota Motor Customer Service Operation (Technical Support Team) finding dated 19 Feb 2004 :

  • The rack damage was a result of a strong impact on the tyre to cause the left-hand rack end to bend:  We strongly suspect that the impact point was so great that it caused the tyre to puncture and eventually to cause the left-hand rack end to bend.

We trust the above investigation explanation details will assist you in understanding the causes of the damage.”

The owner did not accept Toyota’s “explanation” and wrote to Mr Mayasori Hattori in Japan, the General Manager, Overseas Operations Department. He replied, “Thank you for your faxcimile of March 24, 2004 concerning your Vios. We are sorry to learn of the situation you have encountered. In order to ensure a thorough review of the situation as described, your case has been referred to UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd, whom you have already contacted, since they are responsible for resolving customer concerns. You will be contacted by that office in the near future”.  
 
Toyota’s reply of 20 April 2004, signed by Dr Martin Wee, General Manager, Customer Relations Division, Corporate Communications Division, stated:
“It is indeed most regrettable that we have not been able to resolve this long outstanding matter in any mutually satisfactory manner. We wish to again attempt to provide an explanation of our findings on the condition of your Vios with the sincere hope that you shall find acceptable.
“First, permit us to assure you that we view this matter with the utmost concern and gravity. No effort had been spared in our investigation to rule out the possibility that any material or manufacturing defect had been the cause of the steering rack end being bent. As you have correctly pointed out, this is a safety related issue and had this been a case of material defect, you can be certain that we would have begun recalling all the other units of Vios that are on the road for safety inspections of this component. Toyota does not gamble with safety issues or the lives of our valued customers and their families.”
(The next paragraph states about evaluation by the 3 separate groups)
“The full and final conclusion is that an external impact had occurred on the front left tyre with sufficient force to cause the tyre to be cut and the force of the impact to be transmitted through the tyre & wheel rim and front left knuckle to cause the steering rack end to bend upwards.
“Logically and physically, the steering rack end will not bend and deform on its own volition. The steering rack end is made of an alloy steel material which will not undergo any compound change unless exposed to extremely high or low temperatures. If there had been an inherent material defect, any deformation would have manifested itself the moment the vehicle is driven. As your Vios had traveled 6,827km when the steering rack end bent, material defect of the steering rack end may be discounted.
“With the above conclusion, Warranty repairs in this case shall not be applicable and the cost of repairs would have to be borne by you.
“The estimated cost of repairs as provided to you in our letter dated 1 March 2004 shall remain applicable for fourteen (14) days from the date of this letter. To reiterate, the total  estimated cost of repairs is RM1,752.55.”
(NOTE: A copy of this letter was sent to Mr Masayori Hattori, Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan)
The owner’s response dated 26 May 2004, sent to Mr Masayori Hattori quotes from Toyota’s letter of 20-4-04) and says:
“In other words your investigation had determined that the only possibility of the damage had been an external impact and all other possibilities have been ruled out. This was a shocking result as I was the driver of the car at the time of the incident and to suggest that only an external impact caused the damage makes a mockery of the speed I was traveling which was approximately less than 10km/hour. At such speed, it’s really puzzling that the velocity of the car warrants only the conclusion that you have arrived at.”
“Subsequently, I have been requesting for the report without fail but for one reason or other it has been avoided.”
“Later (21st May 2004), Mr Edmond Lim (Manager, Customer Relations Division) had called from Toyota and mentioned that Toyota will send the damaged part to Standards & Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) for an independent investigation. I made an appointment with him the same evening to find out about the statement made by Mr Ramesh on the absence of any report. To my surprise, Mr Edmond reiterated the same information and further shocked me by saying that only ‘visual inspection’ on the part was done. (See Toyota’s reply dated 20th April 2004, 3rd paragraph beginning with “No effort had been spared”).”
“Furthermore, the fact that I have been waiting in vain for more than 4 months for a report strengthened the fact that UMW Toyota is not serious in their efforts in dealing with customers complaint. I had pointed this out to you in my letter dated 24th March 2004 where I had said that I had given up all hope on UMW Toyota’s ability to resolve this matter. I had decided to give them a second chance after your reply dated 9th April 2004 as I believed after your involvement, UMW would have looked into changing their attitude to a more serious note. Sadly that didn’t happen and after this serious failing, it’s not only hope that I have given up but I have now lost total confidence in your management here in Malaysia to look into what is considered a very serious safety issue which could affect millions of car buyers of this particular model in the near future.”
Copies of this letter were sent to several parties, ie :

  • Ministry of Domestic & Consumer Affairs
  • Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association
  • Consumers Association of Penang
  • Public Complaints Bureau
  • Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Washington
  • Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Tokyo
  • Malaysian Automotive Association
  • Persatuan Insurans Malaysia
The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (as it was then known), wrote to UMW Toyota on 23 June 2004 stating that as the car was still under warranty all damages should be rectified free of charge and not paid for by the consumer notwithstanding that the damage was caused by external impact. Toyota replied stating that the warranty covered only failure or defect caused by materials or workmanship. As the damage to the car is not covered by warranty, Toyota cannot repair it free of charge.     
The car was fitted with Goodyear tyres and the owner had requested that the affected wheel and tyre be sent to the manufacturer for an inspection and a report. On 24 June 2004 the owner obtained a Customers Report which stated: “An approximately .05 cm puncture or cut is found on the lower sidewall of the tire. The puncture/cut is on the serial side, located 12 o‘clock from the serial number. Tire is no longer serviceable.”
He also had the car and damaged part inspected by The Automobile Association Of Malaysia which gave a Vehicle Inspection report on 7 July 2004 stating:
“… we have visually inspected the steering assembly of the above mentioned vehicle on the 8 June 2004 and noticed that the left hand side steering rack end (thread area) was bent. We also noted that there were no sign of external impact or scratch marks on the steering assembly.
“We also inspected the above vehicle on 22 June 2004 at Toyota Service Centre, Puchong, Selangor. Based on visual inspection, we did not find any sign or mark of external impact on parts at the front left hand side vehicle and wheel rim (punctured tyre).
“Based on the above findings, we are of the opinion that the steering rack end required further testing in order to identify the cause of damage.”
Finally, on 12 July 2004, the owner wrote to CAP seeking our assistance. He sent us copies of the correspondences and reports that he had obtained.
CAP wrote to Goodyear on 22 July 2004 seeking clarification on its report No. 24604. We received a prompt reply stating:
“1. The tire was still mounted on the rim when it was brought to us for inspection. The sidewalls of the tire were intact and there were no visible signs of a ‘blow out’.
2. The 0.5 cm cut / puncture on the lower sidewall appeared to be inflicted by a sharp object. No visible marks or signs of a ‘powerful impact’ were observed on either the tire or rim.
3. Both outer sidewalls appeared unmarked indicating that vehicle was traveling at a low speed or was stationary when the tire was punctured.
 
“Further inspection of the subject tire, removed from the rim, may be necessary to gather further information.”
We then got back to Toyota and asked for an explanation of its exertions that contradicted with the reports of the AAM and Goodyear. Why had Toyota been harping on a “powerful external impact” when there had been no such impact?  
 
Till today, Toyota has not given us any reply.   
 

Toyota’s tall tales? (part2)

toyota-rack-1HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF…
Same Vehicle Model, and Same Story by Toyota
 

On 12 December 2006, another Toyota Vios 1.5E(A), under similar circumstances, ie traveling at about 10 km/hour, suffered the same fate. In this case, the treaded part of the steering rack end broke off completely. This car had traveled 6,614km (the earlier case, 6,827km).

Toyota took exactly the same stance in handling the complaint, and the car owner approached CAP for assistance.

 
We wrote to Toyota requesting for a full report as to why the car, which had almost stopped at a “Stop” sign at a T-junction, had gone out of control if not for the broken steering rack end. Toyota’s Customer Relationship Management Division Manager, Mr Edmond Lim, replied:
“We write to inform you that we are unable to furnish you with a full report on the incident involving the above vehicle.
“This is because, on 12 December 2006, when the above vehicle was checked-in to our Service Centre for repairs of the said accident, there was no mention of any defect or fault with the vehicle.
“Therefore, at the material time, there was no indication of need for any sort of investigation or report of any kind. Also, since our customer had indicated that he would pay for the repairs and it was subsequently so, the parts concerned had been taken back by him.
“The repairs were subsequently completed on 20 December 2007, 8 days after the vehicle was checked-in to our Service Centre.
“This complaint, however, was only brought to our attention on 8 January 2007, 19 days after the completion of the repairs.
“As such, there is no investigation report for this matter.
“We would like to substantiate however, based on our visual inspection on the 12 December 2006, it is likely that the impact from the accident caused the assembly steering rack to break, and not otherwise.
“We trust the above clarifies matters”.
The car owner, a Malaysian Indian, clarified that the incident happened when there was bereavement in the family, hence the urgency to get the car out of the workshop. They were having prayers in their house on the same day (12 Dec) and again on the 16th & 20th days after the death.
We wrote again to Toyota pointing out that Toyota’s bill for repair of the car came to RM1,525.35 and whether this was consistent with Toyota’s claim that the vehicle had suffered damage as a result of “a severe impact from an external source”. (the first car’s bill was RM1,752.55).
Toyota replied:
“On 12 December 2006, when the above vehicle was checked-in to our Service Centre in Prai for repairs of the said accident, Mr. C…. (Ms. J….’s husband) informed our Prai Customer Service Operation Supervisor that the vehicle was knocked by a third party vehicle from the front left hand side.
“We were also told that there was no police report made on this accident. We were instructed by the customer to proceed with repair, which would be paid by the customer.”
(NOTE: Toyota totally evaded our question, ie whether a car which had suffered a severe external impact could be repaired for RM1,523.35.)
We wrote again to Toyota about the cost of repairs and also asked at which part of the car should the “severe impact” have taken place for the steering rack end to break.
There was no reply for more than 10 weeks and we wrote to the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.  Four months later a reply was given directly to the car owner by the Ministry to file a claim in the Consumer Claims Tribunal.
On 31 March 2008 we wrote to the President, Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan stating that while UMW Toyota was claiming a severe external impact had cause the steering rack end to break, it had failed to show proof of its claim. He gave no reply, but UMW Toyota replied on 8 May 2008 referring to our letter to Japan. The reply stated:
“Kindly be informed that UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd being the sole distributor of Toyota vehicles in this country is fully and solely responsible for the assessment and decision-making of customer affairs and affairs concerning all Toyota vehicles sold and distributed by UMW Toyota Motor”.
(The rest of the content was a repetition of Toyota’s letters of 7 March 2007 and 27 June 2007).
The owner filed a claim in the Consumer Claims Tribunal in Penang. The manager of Toyota’s Customer Service Operation, Prai Service Centre, represented Toyota at the Tribunal. The manager presented himself as a technical person and in “explaining” the rust seen on more than half of the cross-section of the broken part, said that any metal exposed to air would turn rusty. He told the Tribunal that to determine whether the inside of the steering rack end (which is a solid piece of metal), was rusty, the rack end should be cut into two. If rust is found at the newly cut part, it would prove that the rack-end was defective.
The young Tribunal president, obviously without any experience with metals, agreed to the suggestion and the rack-end was cut (at a workshop). The cut surface was very clean and shiny and the manager said that proved the rack-end was not defective. The owner reminded the Tribunal that the manager had earlier stated that metals turn rusty when exposed to air and so asked for a postponement to allow air to be in contact with the cut rack-end.  At the next hearing date 3 weeks later, there was superficial discolouring of the half in the owner’s possession while that kept by the manager had rust on it. This time, a different person presided the Tribunal and he did not accept this “simplistic” test to prove whether the rack-end was defective or not. He wanted a more scientific test done. The manager then said a chemical test should be done. This suggestion was accepted by the president. Who would pay for the test? The owner wanted Toyota to bear the cost, while Toyota said the owner should bear the cost. The owner asked whether Toyota would replace the car if the test proved that the rack-end was defective but the manager balked. The manager only agreed to pay for the test and replace the part.
The owner sent the piece of the rack-end that was with him to a local laboratory for testing, without CAP’s knowledge. Meanwhile CAP checked with the Government Chemistry Department, Penang, whether it could carry out any test to determine why there was rust at the broken part (the rust was there when the part was removed from the car). The department said it did not have the expertise to do such a test.
CAP’s enquiries led to a Consultant, Failure Investigation Services, Joining & Inspection Technology Programme at SIRIM. Photos of the damaged part, with the rust visible, were sent to him together with an explanation of what was to be tested and why. He came back with a quotation of RM8500 and a description of the services, ie :
“Failure analysis on steering rack end.
Service :

  • Visual & low examination and documentation through photography
  • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM). High magnification examination/microexamination of the sectioned locations to reveal fracture mechanisms and defects
  • Microstructural examination — metallographic studies of the specimens
  • Energy Dispersive X-ray Analysis — microanalysis of foreign material such as deposits or inclusion
  • Hardness measurement — to find out the hardness property
  • Chemical Analysis of steel material
  • Interpretation of results of analyses and documentation through a report”
  • As can be seen, much more was needed than a simple chemical test to determine the cause(s) of the rack-end breaking into two and the existence or rust on more than half of the cross section of the metal at the breakage point.
Discouraged by the results of the “chemical test” done by an ordinary lab, the owner withdrew his case from the Tribunal. Toyota must have been very happy.  
Toyota had made misrepresentations in the Tribunal to mislead it about the nature of tests required to determine the cause(s) of the breakage of the rack-end.
“Logically and physically, the steering rack end will not bend and deform on its own volition. The steering rack end is made of an alloy steel material which will not undergo any compound change unless exposed to extremely high or low temperatures.”
Knowing this fact, and that the rack ends of the two cars had not been subjected to “extremely high or low temperatures”, Toyota did not feel it necessary to determine why the rack-ends failed!  On the other hand it claimed “Toyota does not gamble with safety issues or the lives of our valuable customers and their families”.
We sought an independent opinion on the likely cause(s) of such strong metal becoming bent in one case and breaking into two in the other (as far as it was possible to do so based only on photographs) from the Road Safety Department. The pictures were studied by the Research Centre for Biomechanics and Vehicle Safety, under MIROS, ie the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research. The feedback we got was:
In the first case (bent):
“To cause such plastic deformation, you do need significant enough energy to bend such. The only possible source of energy would be due to impact via the tire assembly. With the black & white photos provided to us, I cannot establish any crack or further failure besides the plastic bending deformation. It could be due to the abnormal impact energy which is most probable using inferior material or went through improper material treatment and manufacturing processes is also probable to cause lower stiffness and on weaker elastic yield strength. However, with the information and evidence made available to us, I cannot determine anything further. Numerous scientific lab tests and analyses are required to determine such, which would definitely take up significant resources.
In the second case (broken into two):
“The document includes two black & white photos with a longitudinal and a lateral views. The photos show the fractured end of the rack, which I presume, is not due to the cut ordered by the tribunal court. It is a fracture without any other significant plastic deformation — based on the photos provided. I have no information how the other end looks like and also about the assembly around it. Thus, I have difficulty to assess further. In my technical opinion, the fracture was a brittle fracture which is without significant plastic deformation. A typical steel would have significant inelastic deformation which leads to significant deformation (to a layman). However, one usually hardened it through various processes such heat treatment, strain hardening, etc, to make it stronger.

“When it becomes ‘too’ strong, it would be brittle and catastrophic failure would take place. Any possible imperfection in the manufacturing process may lead to this type of failure too, such as, existence of micro voids, cut and match. It is the same situation on case 1 here. I cannot further establish any of the above due to the fact that significant further analyses are required with laboratory tests. This has been well acknowledged by CAP.”