Toyota Shipping Recall Parts This Week
Toyota said Monday it would start shipping parts to dealers for repairing accelerator pedals in 2.3 million cars and trucks this week, vowing to move as quickly as possible.
The Japanese automaker said it had designed a steel reinforcement bar for the pedals to keep them from sticking in certain situations, and that the repair would take about 30 minutes per vehicle. Toyota had already planned to shut down or curtail production at six North American assembly plants this week, and said its supplier was shipping a revised design to its factories.
"Nothing is more important to us than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive," said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota's U.S. sales arm. "We deeply regret the concern that our recalls have caused for our customers and we are doing everything we can - as fast as we can - to make things right."
Lentz also apologized in a video to customers posted online Monday morning.
The automaker did not say when sales of the eight models covered by the recall would resume; the models account for nearly 60 percent of Toyota's sales. Dealers have to repair any cars and trucks they have in stock before they can be sold.
The pedal recall, along with the expansion of a separate recall to 5.4 million vehicles of floor mats that could trap pedals open, has raised several questions about how Toyota responded to consumer complaints of sudden acceleration. Combined, the two recalls cover 5.6 million vehicles in the United States.
The automaker faces two congressional hearings on the recalls, including one set for Thursday.
Toyota said in its release that some dealers would stay open 24 hours to provide repairs for the accelerator pedal recall and that, if possible, it would repair models covered by the floor mat recall as well.
The automaker first received complaints about the pedals in 2007 and 2008, and changed the parts in production, but only decided it was a safety issue after receiving more complaints last year. Toyota has declined to say how many or how severe the complaints were that triggered the move, but the company that supplied the pedals has said it was fewer than a dozen, none of which was linked to an injury.
Toyota has also said it would recall models in Europe and China for the same problem. The recall also includes the Pontiac Vibe, which Toyota built for General Motors at its California plant scheduled to close.
Several automakers, including all Detroit companies, launched incentives aimed at luring Toyota customers during the sales shutdown. Analysts have said Toyota's U.S. market share would suffer this month.