Toyota Motor Corp said it would recall some 3.8 million vehicles in the US because of the risk that a loose floormat could force down the accelerator, a problem suspected of causing crashes that have killed five people.
The recall includes the hot-selling Prius hybrid and would be the largest ever for Toyota, which has built a reputation for safety and quality that helped it surpass General Motors as the world’s top automaker last year.
The US government said it has received reports of 100 related incidents that include 17 crashes and five fatalities involving Toyota vehicles.
Toyota said it was too early to provide a cost estimate for the move.
Deutsche Securities auto analyst Kurt Sanger estimated the cost at a modest ¥5 billion to ¥10 billion (US$50 and US$100 million), saying the bigger worry was its image.
“Monetarily I wouldn’t expect it to be a major issue for Toyota,” he said, noting that labor costs, which typically make up the bulk of recalls, would likely be minimal. “The bigger concern is reputational.”
Toyota shares were down 1.1 percent in Tokyo yesterday, underperforming a 0.2 percent fall in the main Nikkei average and a rise in rival Japanese car stocks.
Toyota spokesman Yuta Kaga in Tokyo said the floormats subject to the recall are used only in vehicles sold in the US.
The company is also checking whether the problem originates in the floormats or the process of placing them in the vehicles, he said, without naming the floormat supplier.
Toyota and US safety regulators warned owners to remove all driver-side floormats from eight Toyota and Lexus models manufactured in the last six years as an immediate safety precaution.
Last month, an off-duty California state trooper and three members of his family were killed in the San Diego area in a crash of a 2009 Lexus ES350.
Before the crash, a passenger in the car had called 911 and told dispatchers that the accelerator was stuck and the car had reached 193kph.
The recall will cover the Camry and Avalon sedans, the Prius hybrid, the Tacoma and Tundra pickup trucks and luxury Lexus models, the IS250, the IS350 and the ES350.
Toyota’s largest previous recall was in 2005 for a problem with steering rods, covering about 900,000 vehicles.
The pending recall will be equivalent to about double Toyota’s annual sales in the US market.
“This is a negative issue and is going to cost [Toyota] very much. [It’s] not good for advertising,” said Yuuki Sakurai, CEO of Fukoku Capital Management in Japan.
“But I’m not worried much about this problem and whether it will remain a negative factor for Toyota in the long term. They can overcome it,” he said.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit