Last Wednesday, Toyota Motor Corporation announced that it will begin replacing the accelerator pedals on about 4 million recalled vehicles next April. Beginning in January, consumers may take their recalled vehicles to Toyota dealers who will shorten the existing gas pedals by about
inch as a stopgap measure while permanent replacement pedals are being produced. Some recalled vehicles will also have brake override systems installed and Toyota will also provide new, redesigned driver’s and front-passenger side floor mats. The automaker plans to include the brake override system as standard equipment on all Toyota and Lexus vehicles by the end of next year.
In late September, Toyota announced the voluntary recall and advised consumers to remove their driver’s side floor mats to prevent them from jamming the accelerator pedals.
Among the models involved in the recall are the Toyota Camry, Prius hybrid and Lexus ES350.
In a statement issued last week, Toyota said, "The safety of our owners and the public is our utmost concern and Toyota has and will continue to thoroughly investigate and take appropriate measures to address any defect trends that are identified." Company spokesman, Irv Miller, also said Toyota is "very, very confident that we have addressed this issue," and has "no reason to believe that there is a problem with the electronic control systems."
Toyota has not provided any cost estimates for the recall but most analysts say it will be extremely expensive for the automaker.
Last Tuesday, Toyota announced a separate recall of 110,000 2000-2003 model year Tundra pickup trucks in response to allegations of corrosion to the vehicle’s frame.
Toyota executives have called for improved quality controls and expressed concern over the effect the recalls could have on the automaker’s bottom line.
HIS Global Insight analyst, Aaron Bragman, said their concerns are justified. Bragman said, "Their reputation has taken a hit because the actual quality has taken a hit." He said it’s “absolutely critical for Toyota to get that fixed because that’s the central pillar that they’ve built their business on."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota’s accelerator pedal recall is the seventh-largest recall ever in the U.S. The agency has cited unintentional acceleration as the cause of at least five fatalities and two injuries involving Toyota vehicles, and the automaker claims that it has received over 100 reports of accelerator problems from consumers.
Earlier this month Toyota asserted that the NHTSA had found that “no defect exists in vehicles in which the driver’s floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and properly secured." The NHTSA, however, accused Toyota of making misleading statements and reasserted its position that removing the vehicle’s floor mats did not resolve “the underlying defect.”