Report: Toyota May Replace Gas Pedals in Floormat Recall

Posted: Nov 16, 2009 11:10 a.m.

Toyota Motor Corp may replace the gas pedals of about four million vehicles as part of the ongoing saga of the largest safety recall the company has ever faced.  The company initially recalled the cars over concerns that the driver’s side floormat in the vehicles could come out of alignment and press the gas pedal down, causing a vehicle to accelerate without any input from the driver.  The company first asked drivers to remove floormats until further notice. 

Now, Reuters reports, “Toyota is believed to have agreed with U.S. authorities to voluntarily repair the accelerator pedals” in the recalled cars.  A report from Japan’s Kyodo News agency on Saturday said that Toyota has agreed to the fix, but “Toyota spokesman Hideaki Honma denied that the company had reached an agreement with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the matter, and said the talks were proceeding.”

So far, the recall has affected the Toyota Camry, Avalon, Prius, Tacoma, and Tundra, and the Lexus IS250, IS350, and ES350.  However, Toyota has so far recalled vehicles only when the NHTSA receives a specific complaint relating to each model.  The company uses the same accelerator pedal and floormat design on virtually all of its products, including some not included in the recall, so it is possible that other models could be added to the recall if new complaints are filed.

The company, MarketWatch reports, “still maintains that the vehicles are not actually defective.”  A complex solution like replacing four million accelerator pedals is a significant undertaking.  MarketWatch reports, “The total cost of the repairs is estimated at tens of billions of yen (hundred of millions of U.S. dollars).”

But publicity surrounding the issue could hurt sales enough to make the loss worthwhile.  At least one class-action lawsuit alleging related to unintended acceleration claims has already been filed.  Autoblog notes, “The company can only hope now that the rumors, current lawsuits, other current lawsuits, yet-to-be-filed lawsuits, and the 24-hour news cycle don't do the kind of damage that is much worse than merely financial.”

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