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Last updated: January 29, 2010 6:43 pm
Toyota said on Friday that its recall of vehicles with faulty accelerators would affect up to 1.8m of its cars in Europe, capping a week that saw the carmaker’s share price tumble, its reputation for reliability suffer a serious blow and the US Congress plan hearings on the issue.
The Japanese carmaker’s Brussels-based European operation said on Friday that it was recalling eight of its European models, including its Aygo, Auris, Corolla and Avensis, for specific production periods between February 2005 and January 2010. The recall has already affected eight models and 2.3m Toyota vehicles in North America.
“We understand that the current situation is creating concerns, and we deeply regret it,” said Tadashi Arashima, Toyota’s European chief executive.
The company said it had identified a remedy for the problem and it would soon begin telling its customers and dealers how to fix it.
Toyota said that “only a limited number of incidents” had been reported in Europe and that it was unaware of any accidents resulting from the fault, which has been linked to fatal crashes in the US. Unlike in America, it said it had no plans to suspend production of the cars.
However, the recall will do little for the carmaker’s efforts to build its business in Europe, where it and its Lexus premium brand sold 730,831 vehicles last year, fewer than Fiat, General Motors or Ford Motor.
Since November, Toyota has issued recalls covering about 6m vehicles to fix accelerator-pedal problems. It is also fixing a design flaw that could cause pedals to be jammed by out-of-position floor mats.
In the US, Toyota’s largest market, the House energy and commerce committee, led by California Democrat Henry Waxman, said on Thursday that it would begin hearings on February 25.
Mr Waxman said: “Like many consumers, I am concerned by the seriousness and scope of Toyota’s recent recall announcements.” He added that the committee would examine how quickly and effectively Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration responded to complaints.
Separately Honda, Toyota’s biggest Japanese rival, said on Friday that it was recalling 646,000 of its Jazz models due to malfunctioning window switches that it said could cause “melting or smoke or, potentially, fires”. The flaw has been linked to the death of a child in South Africa.
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