Toyota Motor Co. said Tuesday it was suspending Canadian and U.S. sales of eight recalled vehicle models to fix accelerator pedals that stick, the latest quality problem to confront the world’s No. 1 automaker.
As part of the plan, Toyota said it was halting production at five manufacturing facilities including Corolla, Matrix and RAV4 production in Canada for the week of Feb. 1 “to assess and co-ordinate activities.”
There are 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. and about 270,000 in Canada involved in the recall, which was announced last week.
“This action is necessary until a remedy is finalized,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s group vice-president and general manager.
The Japanese automaker says the sales suspension includes the 2009-2010 RAV4, the 2009-2010 Corolla, the 2009-2010 Matrix, the 2005-2010 Avalon, the 2007-2010 Camry, the 2010 Highlander, the 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia.
Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst for the consulting firm IHS Global Insight in Troy, Mich., said Toyota typically sells about 65,000 Camrys and Corollas per month, and the suspension of sales could strike the company’s bottom line and reputation for quality.
“That’s huge if they can’t sell these and they don’t have a fix identified. They need to go and get a solution to this fast,” Bragman said.
In the U.S., Toyota sold more than 34,000 Camrys in December, making the midsize sedan America’s best-selling car, with 3.4 per cent of the market. Sales rose 38 per cent from a year earlier. Sales of the Corolla and Matrix, a small sedan and a hatchback, totalled 34,220 last month, with 3.3 per cent of the market and sales up nearly 55 per cent from December of 2008.
It was unclear how long Toyota would suspend production of the vehicles. In an email to employees, company officials said, “we don’t know yet how long this pause will last but we will make every effort to resume production soon.” Toyota officials did not immediately return phone messages.
Toyota said the company would stop producing vehicles at plants in Indiana, Kentucky, Texas and Canada. They said no other North American Toyota facility would be affected by the decision.
The Japanese automaker produces the Corolla and Matrix at its plant in Cambridge, Ont., and the RAV4 at its plant in Woodstock, Ont.
The company employs about 5,900 people at the two Canadian plants.
Toyota said the sales suspension would not affect Lexus or Scion vehicles. Toyota said the Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser and select Camry models, including all Camry hybrids, would remain for sale.
Toyota said last week it was recalling the vehicles in the U.S. and Canada to fix accelerator pedals with mechanical problems that could cause them to become stuck.
That announcement followed a larger recall months earlier of 4.2 million vehicles because of problems with gas pedals becoming trapped under floor mats, causing sudden acceleration. That problem was the cause of several crashes, including some fatalities.
The recall in November involving the floor mats did not apply to the company’s Canadian vehicles. But Toyota Canada said it would still make changes to the gas pedals and floors of some of its vehicles and install a brake override system on some.
And in a situation unique to Canada, the company recommended Toyota Venza owners take out any Toyota-brand drivers’-side all-weather floor mats. Toyota-brand carpeted floor mat were OK if properly installed and secured, it said.