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Toyota Suspends Sales of Recalled Cars

Jan 27, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Following two massive recalls, allegations of accidents and fatalities linked to defective parts, and accusations of cover-ups and financial remuneration, Toyota Motor Corporation has taken the unprecedented step of ceasing production on eight models just recalled last week to address quality issues and calm service concerns. Business Week reported that, among the eight vehicles involved, popular Camry and Corolla cars are on production hold.

Business Week said that dealers are also putting a hold on sales of RAV4, Highlander, and Sequoia sport-utility vehicles (SUVs); Avalon and Matrix cars; and Tundra pickups. Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, said Business Week, is halting assembly lines at five North American facilities around February 1. “Toyota had a bulletproof reputation for quality, and now it’s been tarnished,” said Jim Hossack, quoted Business Week. Hossack is an industry analyst at AutoPacific Inc. “It’s a dramatic move, and an expensive move,” Hossack added.

Earlier this week, we reported that Toyota was aware of the throttle problem that sparked the recall as far back as last year. USA Today reported that while Toyota determined that the accelerator-pedal assemblies received from supplier CTS had problems, they were insufficient to issue a recall. When the defect became linked to increased problems, Toyota announced a recall of 2.3 million Toyotas, back to model year 2005, said USA Today. That recall – the second since the fall involving unintended acceleration – was announced on January 21.

In addition to the eight Toyota models, the recall also involves an unknown number of 2009-10 Pontiac Vibes, which were both designed and built by Toyota for General Motors’ Pontiac brand, which has been discontinued, said USA Today, noting that the Vibe is similar in design to Toyota’s Matrix, which is included in the recall. Although GM did confirm that the Vibe is included in the recall, it did not make an announcement to that effect; neither did Toyota indicate the Vibe in its recall announcement said USA Today.

According to the AP, Toyota does not have a solution for the problem yet, and it said drivers who experience it should depress the brake firmly and steadily, and then contact a dealer after the vehicle is in a safe location and turned off. Drivers who have not had a problem should wait for the company to develop a remedy before visiting their dealer.

The latest recall followed one in November – the largest in Toyota’s history – to fix a design flaw that could cause the gas pedal to become trapped under the floor mat. As we reported at the time, that recall was prompted in part by the fatal crash of a Lexus sedan that sped out of control and crashed into a ravine near San Diego. Despite that recall, Toyota and federal safety officials continued to receive reports of unintended acceleration and stuck pedals even in cases where the floor mats had been removed.

According to the AP, the two recalls cover 4.8 million vehicles, including 1.7 million affected by both. Regarding the two separate recalls, “I think it’s questionable” the two are separate issues, said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends for, quoted USA Today. is “an auto-pricing and industry-tracking site,” noted USA Today.

According to Business Week, Toyota is considering extending the recalls to Europe since some models there use similar pedal components. Toyota plant workers will not be laid off as a result of the production halt.

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