Toyota to recall million Matrix, Corolla cars
Toyota Motor Corp., the world's largest automaker, will recall about 1.13 million Corolla and Matrix cars for an engine defect that U.S. regulators said could cause stalling "at any speed without warning."
Toyota said Thursday in a statement that it will recall the vehicles for the model years 2005 to 2008 in the United States and Canada following at least three reported accidents linked to the defect.
The action adds to record recalls in the past year by Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota, including more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for flaws related to unintended acceleration.
"This is another bump in the road while Toyota is trying to recover their reputation," auto analyst Rebecca Lindland of IHS Automotive in Lexington, Massachusetts, said. "It will give people who are not Toyota loyalists another reason not to buy the brand."
Toyota tested 32 of the engine components and found four had cracking after thermal-shocking tests, said John Hanson, a spokesman at the U.S. sales unit in Torrance, Calif.
"Toyota concluded that this problem would likely continue to occur, and, therefore, in order to address customer concerns, decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall of all vehicles within the affected range," Chris Santucci, Toyota Motor North America's manager of technical and regulatory affairs, wrote yesterday in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Hanson said he doesn't know what the recall will cost the company. The recall also affects about 162,000 of General Motors Co.'s Pontiac Vibe hatchbacks, which were manufactured in a joint venture with Toyota in California.
"Our goal is to help ensure that Toyota drivers are completely confident in the safety and reliability of their vehicles," Steve St. Angelo, Toyota's chief qualify officer for North America, said in the statement.
NHTSA on Aug. 18 upgraded its investigation of the defect to an engineering analysis, a step that can lead the agency to demand a recall. The regulator said cracks in engine control units could occur if improperly cured coating was applied to circuit boards.
Olivia Alair, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Transportation Department, which includes NHTSA, confirmed the recall.
The safety regulator has received 163 complaints, including six crashes, about engines stalling in the cars and began investigating in November.
Toyota said it will repair the cars at no cost to owners and will reimburse those who had already had the repair done at their own cost.
Toyota's American depositary receipts, each equal to two ordinary shares, fell 34 cents to $68.72 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The ADRs have fallen 18 percent this year.