DETROIT -- Eight-five percent of the nearly 42,000 vehicles that were affected by the recall and parked at auctions when Toyota suspended sales in late January have been repaired or sold or are for sale, a company manager said.
Those vehicles were owned by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.'s captive finance company.
Ralph Fisco, Toyota Financial's national remarketing manager, said dealership service technicians first repaired vehicles owned by dealership customers. After that, they repaired unsold vehicles on dealers' lots and the used vehicles at nearby auctions, in some cases working nights and weekends to finish the repairs.
Fisco expects all of the vehicles at auctions to be repaired by the middle of next week.
Auctions with the remaining vehicles that haven't been repaired are in the Northeast, where bad weather hampered repair efforts, he said.
On Jan. 28, two days after Toyota temporarily suspended sales of eight models, the National Auto Auction Association recommended to its member auctions that they stop selling the vehicles.
Fisco said the recalled Toyotas were parked at 22 Manheim, ADESA Inc. and independent auction sites around the country. The vehicles at the auctions were primarily off-lease, retired rental vehicles and company vehicles and repossessions.
Fisco complimented the auction companies for making it convenient for the technicians by allowing them after-hours access, segregating the vehicles to be repaired and providing technicians with a comfortable indoor work environment.
“One dealer sent six technicians on Valentine's Day, which was a Sunday, to Manheim Seattle,” Fisco says. “They worked 10 hours and repaired about 200 vehicles. That's just one example.”
Fisco said that at the finance company's request, auction houses are making announcements to bidders indicating when a repaired recall vehicle is for sale. Toyota Financial is also providing buyers written documentation indicating that the repairs have been completed.
“It's about being transparent,” Fisco said. “We wanted to be clear with our dealers about the vehicles they are bidding on,”
To support Toyota dealers, early this month Toyota Financial began selling unrepaired recalled vehicles to Toyota dealers only in special online sales, Fisco said. The company is also providing transportation assistance to dealers who purchase those vehicles.
To assist auctions, Fisco said, the finance company took vehicle identification numbers of Toyotas owned by sellers other than Toyota Financial and weeded out recalled vehicles that need to be repaired.
Through it all, Fisco said the company has not seen any deterioration in the wholesale prices of its vehicles: “We're still retaining normal prices.”