Toyota Suspends Sale of 8 Models Over Accelerator Woes

Will stop producing vehicles at five North American facilities for a week beginning February 1

Toyota on Jan. 26 suspended sales in the United States of eight mostly new models while it examines problems with sticking accelerator pedals. The sales suspension could lead to a halt in production for a week at five North American plants, Toyota Motor Sales USA said.

The move, seen as unprecedented by some analysts, came after the world's largest automaker recalled last week 2.3 million Toyota cars and trucks in the United States because of the accelerator problem.

"Helping ensure the safety of our customers and restoring confidence in Toyota are very important to our company," said Toyota Group Vice President Bob Carter said. "This action is necessary until a remedy is finalized. Were making every effort to address this situation for our customers as quickly as possible," he said.

Models affected by the announcement were the 2009-2010 RAV4, 2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, 2005-2010 Avalon, as well as certain 2007-2010 Camry, 2010 Highlander, 2007-2010 Tundra and 2008-2010 Sequoia models, according to the statement.

It pointed out that no Lexus Division or Scion vehicles were affected by the actions.

Also unaffected were Toyota Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser and select Camry models, including all Camry hybrids, which the company said "will remain for sale."

Due to the sales suspension, Toyota said it expected to stop producing vehicles at five North American facilities for a week beginning February 1 "to assess and coordinate activities," the statement said.

It added that the sticking accelerator pedal recall was separate from the ongoing recall of Toyota and Lexus vehicles to reduce the risk of pedal entrapment by incorrect or out of place accessory floor mats.

About 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles are subject to both separate recall actions, it said.

Toyota's latest decisions underlined the seriousness of the problem facing the Japanese auto giant, experts said. "This unprecedented automotive decision indicates how serious a safety problem this is," said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with automotive Web site Edmunds.com.

"We've gone from floormats to recalls for wear items to a full shutdown, and I can't help but think that the company's credibility is being called into question. This could have a long term impact, but then again, Ford recovered from the rollover debacle," he said.

Edmunds.com chief executive Jeremy Anwyl said, "Toyota needed to send a clear message they care more about their customers than monthly profits. And they are."

Toyota said on Jan. 25 that the recall over the accelerator problem might spread to Europe. Japan's top-selling Yomiuri daily reported Monday that Toyota was expected to recall two million vehicles in Europe. f confirmed, the number of vehicles affected in the two regions would be the equivalent of more than half of Toyota's annual sales.

Toyota is looking to boost world sales to 8.27 million vehicles this year, up 6% percent from the previous year which saw a 13% drop.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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