Toyota Stops Sales and Recalls Cars Due to Defective Gas Pedals

A day after Toyota Motor Corp. announced an indefinite suspension of U.S. sales on an unprecedented scale to fix faulty gas pedals, the automaker said late Wednesday that it will recall an additional 1.1 million vehicles in the United States over floor mat problems. Toyota said Thursday’s recall would affect five models: 2008-10 Highlander, 2009-10 Corolla, 2009-10 Venza, 2009-10 Matrix and 2009-10 Pontiac Vibe.

Toyota said late Tuesday that it would halt sales of some of its top-selling models to fix gas pedals that could stick and cause unintended acceleration. Last week, Toyota issued a recall for the same eight models, affecting 2.3 million vehicles.

The suspect accelerator parts are made by a U.S. supplier, but similar parts are also found in its European-made vehicles, an official with the Japanese automaker said Wednesday. Toyota said it hasn’t decided what to do there.

Tuesday’s announcement follows a larger U.S. recall last year 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.

Toyota has said it was not aware of any accidents or injuries due to the pedal problems associated with last week’s recall. About 1.7 million vehicles fall under both recalls.

Toyota is also suspending production at six North American car-assembly plants beginning next week and gave no date on when production could restart.

The sales and production, halt involves several best-selling U.S. models, including the Camry and Corolla sedans, the Tundra truck and the RAV4 crossover, a blend of an SUV and a car.

Toyota said the sales suspension wouldn’t affect Lexus or Scion vehicles and that the Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser and select Camry models, including all Camry hybrids, would remain for sale. Those vehicles contain gas pedals produced by a different North American supplier than the one whose parts are involved in the current sales halt, Toyota has said.

The supplier is CTS Corp., based in Elkhart, Ind., and.he suspect part was manufactured at its plant in Ontario, according to a report Toyota gave the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last week. CTS said Toyota told it  about fewer than a dozen cases in which drivers struggled with pedals.

David Strickland, the administrator of the federal traffic safety agency, said that the Transportation Department had been in regular communication with Toyota about the recall. Strickland said Toyota’s decision to stop selling the vehicles was “an aggressive one and one that is the legal and morally Correct thing to do.” Rental car firms Avis Budget Group and Enterprise Holdings said they were pulling thousands of Toyota models covered by last week’s recall until a fix is available.

Avis Budget said the decision to idle 20,000 Toyotas was a precaution. Enterprise Holdings, which controls the Enterprise, National and Alamo brands, said it would pull an unspecified number of Toyota models from its fleet.

Toyota expects to sell 2.2 million vehicles in North America in 2010, up 11 percent from 2009, according to sales targets released Tuesday. Toyota said it was planning global sales of 8.3 million vehicles this year, up 6 percent from 2009, but those numbers do not account for the U.S. sales stoppage.

Two years ago, Toyota beat out General Motors Co. to become the world’s largest automaker. Now just weeks into 2010, it is halting some sales in the U.S., its biggest market.

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