Toyota recalls 6.5m vehicles worldwide

Latest recall by Japanese auto giant involves fire risk linked to glitch in power window

A Toyota compact car, the Vitz, which is exported under the name Yaris. This model is among several that the Japanese auto giant is recalling worldwide over a power window glitch.
A Toyota compact car, the Vitz, which is exported under the name Yaris. This model is among several that the Japanese auto giant is recalling worldwide over a power window glitch.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • Toyota yesterday said it was recalling 6.5 million vehicles worldwide over a power window glitch that presented a fire risk, the latest in a string of such moves by the Japanese auto giant.

In recent months, Toyota has recalled nearly 10 million vehicles outfitted with defective airbags that have been linked to several deaths globally.

A driver's side power window master switch could short-circuit and cause parts to overheat and melt, Toyota said in an e-mail.

"A melting switch may produce smoking and, potentially, lead to a fire," it added.

The recalled models include the Yaris, Corolla, Camry and RAV4 sport utility vehicle produced between 2005 and 2010, it said.

About 2.7 million of the affected vehicles were sold in North America, 1.2 million in Europe and 600,000 in Japan, Toyota added.

The company estimates that inspecting switches and applying heat-resistant grease will take dealers 45 minutes per fix. It said it had not received reports of accidents tied to the defect, but one customer may have suffered a burn on the hand due to the problem.

Automakers worldwide are under pressure to hasten their recall processes after coming under fire for time lags between learning about potential flaws and calling back cars for fixes.

Toyota has been working to regain its reputation for safety after the recall of millions of cars globally for various problems, including the airbag issues at embattled supplier Takata, based in Tokyo.

Takata has been criticised over the crisis; it also faces lawsuits and regulatory probes into accusations that it knew about the problem and concealed the dangers.

Its defective airbags have been blamed for eight deaths and scores of injuries worldwide, leading to the biggest recall in US history.

The defect - thought to be associated with a chemical propellant that helps inflate the airbags - can cause them to deploy with explosive force, sending shrapnel hurtling towards people in the car.

Apart from Toyota, the crisis has affected 10 other rivals including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Subaru.

Last year, Toyota said it would pay US$1.2 billion (S$1.7 billion) to settle criminal charges in the United States that it had lied to safety regulators and the public as it tried to cover up deadly accelerator defects that might be linked to dozens of deaths.

Toyota recalled 12 million vehicles worldwide in 2009 and 2010 owing to defects that caused vehicles to speed out of control and fail to respond to the brake. The recall cost it around US$2.4 billion.

Toyota eventually determined that the problem was probably caused by floor mats that could trap the accelerator, but the US settlement agreement said the carmaker continued to lie to the public, safety regulators and even a congressional hearing about when the problem was discovered.

Toyota also issued a separate recall in Japan of about 140,000 Crown and Crown Majesta models for a glitch that could cause the hood to open inadvertently.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Toyota recalls 6.5m vehicles worldwide'. Print Edition | Subscribe