Zipcars Temporarily Affected by Toyota Recalls

Zipcars on campus affected by Toyota’s massive safety recall are now back on the road and available for reservation after being repaired.

In response to Toyota’s safety recall, Zipcar announced Jan. 29 that it would not allow reservations for its Toyota Matrix vehicles until problems were “appropriately resolved.” Two weeks later, the 2010 Prius was also pulled from its fleet.

These two types of vehicles make up six percent of Zipcar’s total fleet, and four of the eleven Zipcars on Pomona’s campus. One of the two off-campus Zipcars available to Pomona students in Pitzer’s Sanborn Parking Lot is also a Matrix.

The recall did not go unnoticed, especially by freshmen at Pomona, who are not allowed to have their own cars on campus this year.

“It’s definitely been harder to reserve one,” Zipcar user Mike Stone PO ’13 said. “Even before the recall it was tough to get one on the weekend during peak times. So the recall has only made it worse.”

While some students use Zipcar for weekend getaways and Target runs, others depend on it for work.

“I got Zipcar because I’m thinking about doing a PCIP sometime, and I’ll probably need transportation,” Daniel Moerner PO ’13 said.

Zipcar has become quite popular since it first came to Pomona in 2007. By the spring of 2009, over 600 students, faculty, and staff were registered “Zipsters.” In February of that year, 560 individual reservations were made, an average of 20 a day.

Toyota pulled more than 437,000 Priuses and other hybrid vehicles, adding to the more than eight million Toyota recalls since the fall.

The recalls were due to safety issues such as sticking accelerator pedals, faulty floor mats, and defective brakes. Sudden acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles have been linked to 34 deaths and over 800 crashes since 1999.

Toyota scrambled to deal with these safety flaws, and on Feb. 1, the company announced a solution involving a “spacer” in the pedal mechanism to reduce the risk of unintentional acceleration.

Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda and other Toyota officials appeared before Congress last week to discuss the company’s handling of these issues. At the hearing of the House Government Oversight Committee, Toyoda said Toyota is dedicated to safety and promised that such problems would never happen again.

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