Toyota’s safety crisis deepened on Wednesday as the embattled Japanese giant said it was considering a recall of its Corolla, the world’s best-selling car, because of possible steering problems.
Toyota also announced that it would fit all new models with a system to cut engine power when the driver steps on the accelerator and brake pedals at the same time, to prevent runaway car crashes blamed for dozens of deaths.
The Japanese maker, which is pulling millions of vehicles worldwide due to faulty accelerator and brake systems, said it was now looking into complaints of steering trouble with Corolla models launched since 2009. If there is a defect that affects safety, “we will start recalls,” Toyota executive vice-president Shinichi Sasaki said.
US authorities said they were reviewing dozens of complaints about the Corolla — the world’s most popular car ever with total global sales of more than 30 million since the first version was launched in the 1960s. There have been reports of the vehicle veering off course at speeds above 64 km per hour.
Separately, Toyota said that it would shut down production at two of its US assembly plants for a total of at least 11 days as it grapples with slower sales.
Toyota’s San Antonio plant, which makes the Tundra pickup truck, will be closed during a week in March and a second week in April. In addition, Georgetown plant, the automaker’s largest assembly plant in North America, will be shut down on February 26. The plant could also be idled for a few additional days in March.
Meanwhile, Toyota president Akio Toyoda signalled that he would miss a grilling by US lawmakers next week on the mass recalls, sending one of his top North America executives instead.