Toyota Unveils Repair Plan After Mass Recall

Toyota's president Akio Toyoda apologized

Toyota's U.S. arm on Feb. 1 said it would start fixing a technical glitch in its cars this week after recalling millions of vehicles in a public-relations nightmare for the world's top car maker.

Toyota said the company "developed and rigorously tested" a fix to the problem with accelerator pedals in faulty models and had also come up with "an effective solution" for vehicles currently in production.

"I want to sincerely apologize. I know that the recall has caused many of you concerns and for that I am truly sorry ... I know that we let you down," Jim Lentz, president of Toyota's U.S. sales arm, told CNBC.

Lentz said the fix could be completed "in a short period of time depending on work force of your dealership. We hope to start these repairs in just a few days. Owners will be notified by mail when to set up a proper appointment."

Toyota engineers have been putting the finishing touches to a repair to insert a "spacer" in the pedal mechanism, in order to increase the tension in a spring and reduce the risk of the pedal staying down.

Toyota pulled up to 1.8 million vehicles in Europe on Jan. 29, the latest in a series of recalls that has affected almost eight million Toyota cars worldwide -- more than its entire 2009 global sales of 7.8 million vehicles.

The company has also temporarily halted U.S. production of eight models.

Toyota's president Akio Toyoda kept a low profile last week as the company, founded by his grandfather over 70 years ago, battled to contain the fallout. In his first public remarks since the recall went global, the Toyota family scion gave a brief apology to a Japanese television crew on Jan. 30.

"We're extremely sorry to have made customers feel uneasy," Toyoda told public broadcaster NHK on the sidelines of the Davos forum in Switzerland.

Toyota's shares suffered another drop on Feb. 1, declining 1.1% to 3,450 yen. The stock plunged about 14% last week.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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