TOYOTA detailed plans yesterday to fix 2.4m vehicles equipped with faulty accelerators in the US as the first lawsuits landed on its desk.
Lawyers claimed the world’s largest carmaker had endangered drivers by ignoring signs of trouble.
Toyota, scrambling to contain the fallout from the sweeping recall on its finances and reputation, said it would restart production of eight models in a week’s time.
The firm also began shipping a new part to its US dealers that can be used to repair accelerator pedals at risk of staying stuck when depressed.
The first round of repairs is expected to cost Toyota at least $250m (£157m) in warranty fees. Some Toyota dealerships said they would stay open around the clock to speed customer repairs and stem the damage from a crisis that has sent the carmaker’s January sales tumbling.
Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s US sales subsidiary said: “We know what’s causing the sticking accelerator pedals, and we know what we have to do to fix it.
He added: “We deeply regret the concern that our recalls have caused for our customers, and we are doing everything we can, as fast as we can, to make things right.”
But criticism is mounting that Toyota moved too slowly to address cases of unintended and dangerous acceleration. The claims have tarnished Toyota’s bullet-proof reputation for quality, one of the factors behind its rise to overtake General Motors as the world’s largest automaker.
Two lawsuits claim Toyota should have known earlier about the problems that last week shut down sales of its most popular models. The CTS-supplied accelerator pedal, a $15 part, now stands at the centre of a global crisis that has cost Toyota billions of dollars in market value. In addition to its warranty costs for the recall, Toyota faces lost sales at dealerships and at least a week of lost production.
City A.M. Reporter