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Toyota pedal recall extends to Europe, China

Pedal issues: Accelerator pedal problems reportedly were identified in the European Toyota Aygo in 2008.

Millions more vehicles recalled by Toyota outside US to deal with throttle problem

1 Feb 2010

TOYOTA’S recall to fix sticking accelerator pedals in millions of its cars has extended from the US to Europe and China, although vehicles sold and produced in Australia remain unaffected.

After suspending sales of eight popular models in the US last week, which came a week after announcing a recall of around 2.3 million units of the same models in North America, the world’s largest car manufacturer broadened its recall to the UK and Europe, where up to 1.8 million vehicles are affected.

Taking into account the extension of a separate recall in North America to fix an issue involving floor mats becoming stuck under the accelerator pedal – a recall which now affects 5.3 million vehicles – the total number of Toyota vehicles being recalled has increased to about 6.6 million.

The sticking throttle issue, which could cause the accelerator pedal mechanism to stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position, involves the following models in Europe and the UK: Aygo, iQ, Yaris, Auris, Corolla, Verso, Avensis and RAV4.

PSA Peugeot-Citroen will also recall about 97,000 Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1 cars, which are built off the same platform as the Aygo in a joint-venture plant in Kolin, Czech Republic.

 center imageFrom top: Toyota Tundra, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Auris (Corolla).

European production lines are continuing to roll and, according to Toyota, “there is no need or intention to stop production” after a running change using different parts to deal with the problem had “already been implemented model-by-model”.

Overseas reports indicate that the problem with the accelerator pedals, which for the affected vehicles were all manufactured by US parts-maker CTS Corporation, were first identified in 2007 in the North American Tundra pick-up and surfaced in Europe in right-hand drive versions of the Yaris and Aygo in 2008.

In China, the world’s biggest automotive market last year, Toyota is recalling some 75,000 RAV4 models – one of the eight models concerned in the US recall. The others models are the current Corolla, Avalon, Highlander, certain Camry models, Tundra, Matrix and Sequoia.

From this week, Toyota has halted production on several production lines in North America due to the sales suspension.

At least one consumer organisation in the US has recommended that people do not purchase models that are subject to the pedal recall, and a number of rival manufacturers – including General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and Hyundai – have begun offering incentives to Toyota owners in an effort to capitalise on the situation.

An independent parliamentary committee in Washington has started an investigation into whether Toyota, and the Obama and Bush administrations, responded adequately to customer complaints about sticking pedals, while Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) president Akio Toyoda was reported to have apologised for the recalls on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, late last week.

His comments came as Toyota continued to suffer at the hands of investors last week, with the company’s share price dropping 14 per cent over the five-day period. Financial analysts place the fall in market value at ¥1.9 trillion ($A18.5 billion).

Toyota also revealed that it will cut 750 jobs in the UK at its Burnaston, Derbyshire, assembly plant by the end of August.

Around 3800 people are employed at the plant, which builds Avensis and Auris (Corolla) models and was scheduled to begin building a hybrid version of the Auris later this year.

Meanwhile, CTS Corporation said in a statement that it had been working with Toyota “for awhile” to develop a new pedal, which has been tested and is now beginning to be shipped to production facilities in the US.

Toyota has also this week announced a dealer-fit solution for faulty accelerator pedals, which involves “reinforcing the pedal assembly in a manner that eliminates the excess friction that has caused the pedals to stick in rare instances”.

Other car manufacturers, including Ford, Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi, use CTS accelerator pedals in certain models but these are built to different specifications and no problems have been reported.

No Lexus or Scion vehicles are involved in the accelerator pedal recall.

“We understand that the current situation is creating concerns, and we deeply regret it,” said Toyota Motor Europe president and CEO Tadashi Arashima.

“We would also like to reassure customers (that) the potential accelerator pedal issue only occurs in very rare circumstances. The announced action is a preventive measure aimed to guarantee the highest safety standards to all customers.”

In a separate development, Toyota also recalled a further 1.1 million cars in North America last week for the “pedal entrapment” (floor mat) recall, which now involves 5.3 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles – and GM’s Pontiac Vibe, which is a model based on the Matrix.

Although the Pontiac brand is now being wound down, the Vibe – which up until recently was built in California under the former GM/Toyota New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI) joint venture – continues into the 2010 model year.

GM has issued a statement that insists “the Vibe is safe to drive” after receiving complaints about sticking accelerator pedals in the wake of the Toyota recall on this issue.

It said that it was investigating all complaints and insisted it had not received customer complaints about sticking accelerator pedals until after Toyota issued its first recall notice for this problem on January 21.

TMC has also just released its 2010 sales forecast, which anticipates that worldwide sales will increase six per cent on 2009 to 8.27 million (including Daihatsu and Hino). However, the company has confirmed that this figure does not take the US sales suspension into account.

Last year, TMC posted 7.81 million sales, which was down 13 per cent on 2008.

Toyota Australia has confirmed that no export version of its Camry and Aurion models are affected by the US sales ban. Its continuing advice is that no Australian models are affected by either recall in other parts of the world.

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