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Toyota recalls nearly 13,000 of its cars in Korea

Floor mat problems, similar to those reported in the U.S., are the cause for the recall

Apr 07,2010
Toyota Korea’s President Hisao Nakabayashi apologizes for the recall of thousands of Toyota and Lexus models in Korea at a news conference yesterday. [YONHAP]
Toyota Korea apologized yesterday for ordering a recall of nearly 13,000 Toyota and Lexus brand cars sold in Korea due to fears about the sudden acceleration of the vehicles when the floor mat interferes with the operation of the gas pedal.

The decision came nearly two months after Toyota recalled 8.5 million cars, mainly in the United States, for similar safety problems, which dealt a blow to Toyota’s image.

Toyota Korea and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said the local subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp. intends to recall 12,984 vehicles.

The recall includes the Lexus ES350 produced between November 2005 and January 2010 and Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid made between February 2009 and January 2010, all of which were produced in Japan.

The vehicles made after January are equipped with different mats and are therefore considered safe, the company said. In addition, 684 vehicles imported into the country by individual buyers are included in the recall.

“I hereby express my sincere apology for causing concerns and inconvenience to customers in relation to the recall,” said Toyota Korea President Hisao Nakabayashi at a press conference at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul.

The company said there is a possibility that old floor mats used for the ES350 can slip forward and cause the gas pedal to stick, causing a sudden acceleration.

However, there have been no accidents reported in Korea in relation to the defect and the chance of such incidents is very low, the company said.

“The recall is to ease safety fears among consumers over potential problems,” Nakabayashi said.

Because of structural similarities between the ES350 and Camry models, the latter is also subject to recall.

Beginning April 19, Toyota dealers will replace old floor mats and shorten gas pedals by two centimeters (0.78 inch).

The old mats were produced in Korea and have never been exported.

Toyota also will install from September a brake override system, which prevents acceleration caused when the brake and gas pedals are pressed at the same time.

Toyota Korea had previously said that the rubber mats used in the U.S. models that were recalled earlier were different from those used for vehicles sold in Korea and consequently believed that its cars sold here did not suffer similar problems.

Toyota said it found the subsequent problem with the floor mats on its own.

But ministry officials claim that the Korea Transportation Safety Authority’s research center first discovered the problem and notified Toyota Korea at a meeting in early March.

The company later acknowledged the problem and decided on the recall, according to a manager at the authority, who declined to be named.


By Limb Jae-un [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]



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