Toyota has built up a reputation in American for reliability, safety, and overall quality. While many customers and auto reviewers have noticed a slip in interior quality of newer Toyota vehicles in recent years, the Japanese automaker has so much goodwill built up with the public that such findings have done little to tarnish the company’s image.
However, the latest news coming from the Toyota camp threatens to take quite a bit of wind out of the automaker’s sails. What was once thought just to be just a problem with improperly installed floor mats has turned into a much more complicated issue. Last week, Toyota issued a recall for 2.3 million vehicles to fix problems with the accelerator pedals.
Yesterday, however, Toyota took the drastic model to announced the suspension of sales for eight vehicle models in the U.S. — effective February 1 — including the best selling car in America: the Toyota Camry. “Toyota has investigated isolated reports of sticking accelerator pedal mechanisms in certain vehicles without the presence of floor mats,” the company said in a press release. “There is a possibility that certain accelerator pedal mechanisms may, in rare instances, mechanically stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position.”
The full list of affected vehicles includes:
2007-2010 Camry (excluding hybrid models)
2010 Highlander (excluding hybrid models)
“This unprecedented automotive decision indicates how serious a safety problem this is,” Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs told Reuters. “We’ve gone from floor mats 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.”
All affected models are either built in the U.S. or Canada. In addition, all affected models have accelerator pedals that come from a single supplier, CTS. Toyota is now working with CTS to fix the problem at hand so that the planned stoppage of vehicle sales doesn’t go on for too long.
“In this highly competitive market, no automaker — not even Toyota — can afford to stop selling its cars and trucks for long, but perhaps Toyota is banking on the idea that customers will appreciate the priority of their safety in this decision,” added Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell.
Updated 1/27/2010 @ 5:43pm EST
In a true showing of kicking a company while it’s down, GM is now offering a $1,000 trade-in rebate (or free financing) to any customer that trades in a Toyota vehicle to purchase a new GM vehicle.
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