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Toyota to repair recalled vehicles
Car maker apologises for accelerator glitch and promises to fix fault quickly.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2010 21:20 GMT
Wordwide recalls have affected almost eight million Toyota vehicles [AFP]

Toyota, the Japanese car manufacturer, has said it will start fixing a technical glitch in millions of vehicles recalled in North America, Europe and China.

Toyota's US unit said the company had "developed and rigorously tested" a fix to the problem with accelerator pedals in faulty models and had also come up with "an effective solution" for vehicles currently in production.

"I want to sincerely apologise. I know that the recall has caused many of you concerns and for that I am truly sorry ... I know that we let you down," Jim Lentz, the president of Toyota's US sales arm, told US business channel CNBC.

Lentz said the fix could be completed "in a short period of time".

"We hope to start these repairs in just a few days. Owners will be notified by mail when to set up a proper appointment."

'Rare problem'

The fault can cause accelerator pedals to become stuck or be slow to return when released.

Toyota, which overtook General Motors in 2008 as the top-selling automaker,  has said the problem is rare and is caused by condensation that can build up in the pedal assembly.

The company has been under growing pressure from dealers and from the Japanese and US governments to fix them problem rapidly, and to rebuild consumer confidence.

Andrew English, a motoring correspondent with the British Daily Telegraph, said that while the recalls are deeply embarrassing for Toyota, companies do usually regain consumer confidence and sales.

"It's important to say car makers recall cars all the time. They go wrong all the time, sometimes quite seriously," he told Al Jazeera.

"Before any of this happened, Toyota had recalled more cars than it had sold in North America last year, so this is an ongoing thing.

"In this case, there is something of a bogeyman about a throttle that sticks open. It's the same as a cruise control that won't switch off, it's that 'runaway car' thing, so it captures everyone's worst nightmare.

"In those circumstances you certainly need to move fast."

Production freeze

The recall in the US, Toyota's biggest market, covers 2.3 million vehicles and involves the 2009-10 RAV4 crossover, the 2009-10 Corolla, the 2009-10 Matrix hatchback, the 2005-10 Avalon, the 2007-10 Camry, the 2010 Highlander crossover, the 2007-10 Tundra pickup and the 2008-10 Sequoia SUV.

US production and sales of the models affected have been suspended until the fault can be fixed.

The company announced on Friday that it was extending the recall to another 1.8 million cars sold in Europe.

In a separate recall, 5.4 million vehicles in the US and 200,000 vehicles in Canada have been recalled to address a risk that floor mats in the vehicles can come loose and trap the accelerator pedal.

Combined, the recalls would affect more than eight million vehicles worldwide.

The scale of the recalls has badly dented Toyota's reputation for quality and reliability, as well as hitting its share price, wiping more than 15 per cent off Toyota stock last week.

Toyota kicked off a media blitz on Sunday with full-page ads in 20 major US newspapers alerting consumers to the recall and "pause" in production. 

The faulty pedals were made by CTS Corporation of Elkhart, Indiana, US.

French Peugeot Citroen has recalled 100,000 cars which are made in a factory it shares with Toyota.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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