Saturday, January 30, 2010

The automobile manufacturer Toyota has said that it will recall up to 1.8 million cars across Europe, after a problem with the accelerator pedal was discovered.

According to the firm, eight models were affected by the problem — AYGO, iQ, Yaris, Auris, Corolla, Verso, Avensis, and RAV4 — after it was discovered that the accelerator may become stuck in a depressed position, resulting in uncontrollable speeding.

On Thursday, Toyota said it would recall 1.1 million cars in the US; a day previous, it had suspended eight models from sales. Last week, 2.3 million cars in the US were recalled due to the pedal issues.

The chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe commented on the recall. “We understand that the current situation is creating concerns and we deeply regret it,” said Tadashi Arashima. The firm, however, noted that it wasn’t aware of any accidents resulted by the malfunctioning accelerator pedals, and not many pedal problem incidents were reported in Europe. “The potential accelerator pedal issue only occurs in very rare circumstances,” Arashima added.

The National Automobile Dealers Association, meanwhile, commented that Toyota showrooms could lose as much as US$2.47 billion worth of revenue due to the incident.

“Toyota veterans will likely hear the news with disbelief and keep faith in the brand, but new customers could definitely be scared off,” remarked Robert Rademacher, who is the president of the trade group ZDK, as quoted by Business Week. “This recall has a dimension which we’ve never seen before.”

There are concerns that the problem may result in reduced consumer trust in Toyota. Hans-Peter Wodniok, an analyst for Fairesearch GmbH & Co. in Germany, noted: “If this is a one-time event, huge as it is, Toyota may be forgiven. But if something happens again in the next months and years, they will have gambled away customer trust in Europe as well.”

Analysts for Morgan Stanley, however, said they believed Toyota would not suffer much from the incident. “The company’s actions to correct the situation are timely enough to avoid major brand damage,” they remarked in a note to investors.

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