x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Toyota recalls 270,000 vehicles

A recall could affect the Lexus LS460 model, sold in the UAE, and would be the second recall in the Emirates this year for Toyota.

TOKYO // Toyota Motor said today it would recall 270,000 vehicles worldwide because of an engine fault affecting cars including its luxury Lexus range and Crown sedans, in the latest blow to its reputation. The world's largest carmaker said faulty valve springs in certain engines could potentially lead to affected vehicles stopping while in operation. It plans to submit a recall notice to Japan's transport ministry on Monday, with the latest action affecting 90,000 units in Japan and 180,000 overseas, most of them in the United States.

"The recall is due to defective parts of valve springs, which may result in abnormal noise or idling. In a worst case, the engine could stop," said Toyota spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi.

Toyota Motor Sales USA said about 137,000 of the 180,000 units abroad would be recalled in the United States and advised customers to contact their local dealer. The beleaguered automaker said that defective 4.6-litre V8 and 3.5-litre V6 engines were installed in eight models including some hybrids - the Lexus GS350, GS450h, GS460, IS350, LS460, LS600h and LS600hL as well as Crown sedans. Toyota said it had not received any reports of accidents or injuries related to the fault.

A recall could affect the Lexus LS460 model, which has been sold in the UAE. It would be the second recall in the Emirates this year for Toyota. Simon Frith, the managing director of Al-Futtaim Motors, which sells Toyota and Lexus cars in the UAE said in a statement yesterday: "We are monitoring the situation and liaising closely with Lexus in Japan to fully investigate this concern. "Al-Futtaim Motors will work closely with the UAE's Ministry of Economy to ensure our customers are kept updated as more information becomes available."

Of the 270,000 cars affected, some 180,000 were sold outside of Japan. Currently, Toyota accounts for about a third of cars sold in the UAE. "If it becomes apparent that any Lexus vehicles in the UAE are affected we will take the appropriate action," said Mr Frith. Anyone with concerns should contact the Toyota customer care hotline on 04 206 6002. In February Toyota was ordered to recall 3,120 vehicles in the UAE as part of a global campaign to fix accelerator problems that had been linked to several fatal crashes.

Toyota has been hit by a series of safety recalls and has pulled around 10 million vehicles worldwide since late last year, mostly due to acceleration problems. Toyota's latest announcement comes as the company looks to improve its recall process following heavy criticism of the way it handled safety issues in the United States that have been blamed for more than 80 deaths. Company president Akio Toyoda in June apologised to shareholders for the recall crisis, saying he thought he might have to resign when he was hauled before a US congressional hearing in February. While smaller than earlier recalls, the fact that the latest problem affects Toyota's luxury Lexus brand is another serious blow to the company's already battered reputation, said Tatsuya Mizuno, analyst at Mizuno Credit Advisory. "It has renewed uncertainties surrounding the company," he said. "The recall may bring a psychological impact as this has happened to its most luxurious models, which Toyota offered to customers with full confidence."

In April, the carmaker recalled 6,000 Lexus sports utility vehicles in the United States due to potential stability problems after a consumer magazine slapped them with a "Don't Buy" rating. In May, it announced a recall of 11,500 other Lexus vehicles over steering issues. Mizuno said that the latest recall "may dampen consumer sentiment on its cars at a time when Toyota is still struggling to recover while it faces class action lawsuits in the United States."

* AFP and The National staff