Toyota to recall 7.4 million vehicles globally on power window glitch
Documents show 9 injuries, 161 fires, AP reports
In the United States, the Toyota recall covers various 2007 through 2009 models of the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Yaris, RAV4, Tundra, Scion xD, Scion xA, Sequoia, Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, Corolla and Matrix.
Photo credit: REUTERS
TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. plans to recall 7.43 million vehicles worldwide -- including 2.47 million units in the United States -- in the single biggest automotive recall since 1996 to fix faulty power window switches.
The U.S. action covers various 2007 through 2009 models of the Camry, Camry Hybrid, Yaris, RAV4, Tundra, Scion xD, Scion xA, Sequoia, Highlander, Highlander Hybrid, Corolla and Matrix. About 240,000 vehicles in Canada are also affected.
Today's recall announcement came as President Akio Toyoda pushes to rebuild the company's reputation for quality. Toyota recalled more than 10 million units in 2009 and 2010 for defects associated with unintended acceleration.
Toyota didn't provide estimates on the cost of the recall. The power window switches can be repaired in about an hour depending on the dealer's work schedule, the company said in a statement.
"The process to repair (the power window switch) is not an extensive one," spokeswoman Monika Saito said.
The automaker said driver's-side switches are prone to having a "notchy" or "sticky" feel. If commercial lubricants are applied to address the issue, the switch assembly could melt or emit smoke and in some cases cause a fire.
The company said it's conducting the recall to inspect the vehicles and apply special fluorine grease to the switch.
Toyota initially said on Wednesday it hasn't received any reports of injuries or accidents because of the issue. But in documents filed with U.S. safety regulators, Toyota disclosed nine injuries and 161 fires have been reported because of the problem, according to a story by The Associated Press.
No deaths have been reported.
Keisuke Kirimoto, a Toyota spokesman, told the AP that Toyota's public relations division at headquarters was not aware of the company's injury and fire disclosure. He told the AP it was an embarrassing but honest error, according to the report.
The first time the problem was reported was in September 2008 in the United States, Saito said.
The automaker regained its crown as the world's best-selling automaker in the first half of this year and expects to sell 9.76 million cars and light trucks globally this year, including the Daihatsu and Hino brands.
More recently, though, Toyota -- and other Japanese brands -- have seen sales plummet in China, the world's biggest auto market, as a result of protests in a simmering Sino-Japanese territorial dispute. Toyota said on Tuesday that its China sales fell 48.9 percent year-on-year in September. Sales in China account for about 12 percent of its total.
Toyota said about 1.4 million vehicles in China and 1.39 million in Europe are also affected by the recall, said Joichi Tachikawa, a Tokyo-based spokesman.
The firm is also recalling 650,000 vehicles in Australia and Asia, 490,000 in the Near and Middle East, and 330,000 elsewhere, said Shino Yamada, another spokeswoman for Toyota.
Koichi Sugimoto, senior analyst at BNP Paribas Securities in Tokyo, said: "Of course, 7 million vehicles is a huge number, but it's probably not going to be like last time when customers in the United States avoided buying Toyota cars. This sounds like a completely different scale from then."
Another securities analyst, Satoru Takada of Toward the Infinite World Inc., said: "Even if you calculate the cost in a very simple way, it's going to be significant. What comes with standardizing platforms and parts is that these recalls become immense."
The move comes a day after Toyota reported that its sales fell 49 percent year-on-year in China in September. Japanese car brands have suffered as a result of an outbreak of anti-Japan sentiment in China in response to a territorial dispute between the two countries.
In 1996, Ford Motor Co. pulled back 8 million vehicles to replace defective ignition switches linked to engine fires.
Reuters, Bloomberg, and Lindsay Chappell contributed to this story.
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