Toyota Motor Recalls 1.7 Million Cars for New Defects

Toyota Motor Recalls 1.7 Million Vehicles Worldwide
The Toyota Motor Corp. is struggling to recover its reputation for reliability after record recalls, mainly for problems relating to unintended acceleration. Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s biggest carmaker, recalled about 1.7 million vehicles globally for defects in fuel pipes and pumps, pressure sensors and spare tire carriers. The shares fell 1.9 percent in Tokyo.

In Japan, Toyota will recall 1.28 million units of models including the Voxy, Noah and Isis minivans and RAV4 sport-utility vehicles, according to statements from the company. Separately, Toyota said it would conduct a voluntary safety recall of 245,000 Lexus luxury cars in the U.S. to inspect installation of fuel pressure sensors and call back 135,000 Avensis sedans in Europe for potential defects in fuel systems.

The automaker, based in Toyota City, Japan, is struggling to recover its reputation for reliability after record recalls, mainly for problems relating to unintended acceleration. General Motors Co., the second-ranked global automaker, narrowed Toyota’s lead in 2010 after the Asian automaker’s sales fell 0.4 percent in the U.S.

“Compared with last year, consumers are responding less to Toyota’s continued recalls,” said Tadashi Usui, a Tokyo-based analyst at Moody’s K.K. “It’s still questionable whether Toyota will fully regain its reputation for quality.”

There have been no reports of accidents because of the faults, Toyota said.

’Big Damage’

Toyota fell 1.9 percent to close at 3,400 yen in Tokyo. The shares have gained 5.6 percent this year. They dropped 17 percent in 2010, making the stock the biggest drag on Japan’s Topix index, which declined 1 percent.

The recall is the company’s largest since Oct. 21, when it said 1.53 million cars had brake-related problems that may cause fluid leaks. Defects linked to unintended acceleration led to recalls totaling more than 8 million units that began in September 2009.

President Akio Toyoda told reporters Jan. 10 in Detroit that the recalls inflicted "big damage" on Toyota. “Toyota cars are safe,” he said. "I’d like you to expect more good things to come from us.’’

Toyota was the only large automaker to post a sales decline last year in the U.S., historically its most profitable market. Its deliveries fell 0.4 percent to 1.76 million Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles, in contrast to an industrywide increase of 11 percent, the first since 2005.

Market Leader

Fifty years after entering the U.S. in 1957, Toyota passed Ford Motor Co. in U.S. sales in 2007, trailing only GM in what was then the world’s largest auto market. In 2008, Toyota surpassed GM in global sales to become the world’s largest automaker.

Toyota will remain the global market share leader in 2015 with sales of about 10 million vehicles, according to IHS Automotive, a research firm based in Lexington, Massachusetts. The automaker will rank third in U.S. share that year with 2.5 million deliveries, following GM at 3.1 million and Ford at 2.75 million, IHS said.

“After Toyota’s recalls last year, the company is more sensitive to recall issues and conducting them as early as possible,” said Satoru Takada, a Tokyo-based analyst at TIW Inc.

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