According to an exclusive CBS News investigation, there have been 59 deaths and hundreds of injuries linked to Yamaha’s off-road vehicle, the Rhino.
CBS reports that before the Rhino was available for sale, it was tested on trails in Kentucky in July 2002. During those tests, Keisuke “Casey” Yoshida, president of a U.S. subsidiary of Yamaha Motor Co, Ltd. drove a Rhino prototype with a company vice president in charge of Rhino development sitting in the passenger seat. After coming down a hill onto flat ground the Rhino tipped over, injuring the passenger’s foot. CBS News reports after that incident, Yoshida stated, “Casey wants update on instability of vehicle for future liability cases..
The Rhino was introduced 15 months later in the fall of 2003 and more than 150,000 were sold. The once popular vehicle is now the subject of many lawsuits because of injuries and deaths linked to its instability. There are more than 400 wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits pending and Yamaha has settled other cases.
Complaints about the Rhino include its narrow stance, high ground clearance, and lack of a rear differential to help in turning. On March 31, 2009, under pressure from the U.S. Consumer Protection Agency, Yamaha announced a free repair program to improve the Rhino’s handling and instability.
The Consumer Protection Agency continues to investigate the Rhino, according to the chairman of the agency.