Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) began recalling about 7.43 million vehicles worldwide after the company detected a possible flaw that could lead the power-window switch to melt or catch fire.
The recall affects about 2.47 million vehicles in the U.S., 1.4 million in China and 1.39 million in Europe, said Joichi Tachikawa, a Tokyo-based spokesman. The Corolla and Camry are among the 14 models -- some produced as far back as 2007 -- subject to inspection and repair, he said. The company hasn’t received any reports of accidents because of the issue, he said.
The scale of the recall, equivalent to 93 percent of its vehicles sold last year, comes as President Akio Toyoda pushes to rebuild the company’s reputation for quality. Toyota, which recalled more than 10 million units in 2009 and 2010 for defects associated with unintended acceleration, took two years for its Lexus brand to regain the top spot on J.D. Power & Associates’ new-car quality survey in 2011.
“The volume is big, and doesn’t look good,” Satoru Takada, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at Toward the Infinite World Inc., a securities research company, said by telephone today. “Even if you calculate the cost in a very simple way, it’s going to be significant. What comes with standardizing platforms and parts is that these recalls become immense.”
Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, didn’t provide estimates on the cost of the recall. Its stock fell for a third day in Tokyo trading, dropping 1.9 percent to 2,943 yen, its lowest close since July 27.
The recall involves about 490,000 vehicles in the Middle East, 240,000 in Canada and about 650,000 in Asia, excluding Japan and China, Tachikawa said.
The recall centers on the driver’s side power-window master switch, which may feel “notchy or sticky” and prompt users to apply commercial lubricants. That may result in melting, cause smoke and lead to a fire, according to Toyota.
The company said it’s conducting the recall to inspect the vehicles and apply special fluorine grease to the switch.
“It’s not something that would cause any deadly accidents like the recall of 2009, so I do not think it would affect the company’s profit or share price,” said Satoshi Yuzaki, Tokyo- based general manager at Takagi Securities Co. “Investors are focusing more on sales in China, and not reacting much to this recall.”
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