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Toyota delays delivery of 23,000 vehicles covered by neighbor's tar, soot

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. has to delay delivery of thousands of vehicles, including some 20,000 for export, because it has to clean up a mess left by a neighbor.

The problem: Some 23,000 vehicles awaiting shipment at lots near Nagoya were coated in a layer of greasy soot and tar last month after a messy malfunction at a nearby steel mill.

Hosing down the cars will delay some shipments by up to a month, Toyota said.

While Toyota declined to identify what markets will be kept waiting, a spokesman confirmed that none of the affected cars were bound for North America.

About 3,000 of the vehicles were also dedicated for shipment to other parts of Japan.

Toyota declined to say what models were sullied by the soot.

The accident happened June 22, when the Nagoya Works operated by Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. suffered a power failure.

To deal with the power failure, the company had to burn off an excess build up of coke oven gas, which the company said resulted in “massive smoke generation.”

While the smoke cleared later that day, Toyota said it is still dealing with the fallout.

Cleanup of both export and domestic market vehicles is expected to finish this week, but export deliveries will be delayed from one week to one month, depending on the market.

Toyota has marshaled about 5,000 workers into special mop-up details to tackle the task, Japan’s Nihon Keizai business daily reported. Toyota may also seek compensation for the damage from Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, the newspaper said.

The steel company apologized in a release, saying: “We deeply regret any inconvenience that may have been experienced by neighborhood residents and other related parties.”

You can reach Hans Greimel at -- Follow Hans on Twitter: @hansgreimel

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