A carmaker's special case

For corporations, there's more to recalling a defective product than admitting a problem and promising to fix it.

The company also has to determine whether a recall is warranted and devise a viable plan to fix the problem.

Take Audi's hip new TT coupe, which was recalled this month to correct a problem that causes the car to spin in abrupt maneuvers at speeds over 100 miles per hour. Several accidents and one death led to a $10.5 million recall in Germany.

But in the US, such high speeds are so far from legal that the company initially resisted a recall here. In the end, the answer was clear to executives. "If people want to risk their lives in our cars [by driving triple-digit speeds], we want to make them capable of that," says Audi US spokeswoman Jennifer Garber.

Audi's previous reputation for poorly built cars and disastrous rap for "sudden acceleration" - which was later disproved - may also have played a part. Another high-profile recall could halt the company's rebound.

On the other hand, taking no action in the face of bad publicity could be seen as callous- and have even worse results.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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