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Toyota recalls 7.43M vehicles on faulty window switch

By Anna Mukai and Yuki Hagiwara

Bloomberg News

LAST UPDATED: 07:49 a.m. HST, Oct 10, 2012

Toyota Motor Corp. began recalling about 7.43 million vehicles worldwide after the company detected a possible flaw that could lead the power-window switch to melt or catch fire.

The recall affects about 2.47 million vehicles in the U.S., 1.4 million in China and 1.39 million in Europe, said Joichi Tachikawa, a Tokyo-based spokesman. The Corolla and Camry are among the 14 models — some produced as far back as 2007 — subject to inspection and repair, he said. The company hasn’t received any reports of accidents because of the issue, he said.

The scale of the recall, equivalent to 93 percent of its vehicles sold last year, comes as President Akio Toyoda pushes to rebuild the company’s reputation for quality. Toyota, which recalled more than 10 million units in 2009 and 2010 for defects associated with unintended acceleration, took two years for its Lexus brand to regain the top spot on J.D. Power & Associates’ new-car quality survey in 2011.

“The volume is big, and doesn’t look good,” Satoru Takada, a Tokyo-based auto analyst at Toward the Infinite World Inc., a securities research company, said by telephone today. “Even if you calculate the cost in a very simple way, it’s going to be significant. What comes with standardizing platforms and parts is that these recalls become immense.”

Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, didn’t provide estimates on the cost of the recall. Its stock fell for a third day in Tokyo trading, dropping 1.9 percent to 2,943 yen, its lowest close since July 27.

‘Sticky’ Switch

The recall involves about 490,000 vehicles in the Middle East, 240,000 in Canada and about 650,000 in Asia, excluding Japan and China, Tachikawa said.

The recall centers on the driver’s side power-window master switch, which may feel “notchy or sticky” and prompt users to apply commercial lubricants. That may result in melting, cause smoke and lead to a fire, according to Toyota.

The company said it’s conducting the recall to inspect the vehicles and apply special fluorine grease to the switch.

“It’s not something that would cause any deadly accidents like the recall of 2009, so I do not think it would affect the company’s profit or share price,” said Satoshi Yuzaki, Tokyo- based general manager at Takagi Securities Co. “Investors are focusing more on sales in China, and not reacting much to this recall.”

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bobbob wrote:
Here we go again.
on October 10,2012 | 07:15AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Does anyone remember the movie "Gung Ho" starring Michael Keaton? The movie was about a Japanese auto manufacturer that decides to build a plant in the US and try to beat the company record of the most cars produced. Keaton portrayed the American plant supervisor. Anyway, the whole premise was that the American workers did not care about quality so the cars were also poor in quality. Keaton had to use a lot of diplomacy as a go-between with the Japanese bosses and American workers. Well, if anyone also remembers the 70's and 80's when American cars like the Plymouth Volare/Dodge Aspen, Chevrolet Vega, Ford Pinto, and others were falling apart as soon as you left the dealership while the Corollas and Civics ran forever it seemed? That was before the Japanese started opening plants in the US. Not saying anything about whether that was a good or bad idea, but it's funny how life imitates art.
on October 10,2012 | 07:42AM
E_Ogawa wrote:
The movie came out after Japanese-branded automobiles were already being manufactured in the U.S., so this is a matter of art imitating life.
on October 10,2012 | 09:27AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Well whatever, but my point is this. Prior to the Japanese putting up factories in the US, their cars were clearly superior to US made cars. Their only problem was rust. Now, American products are getting better and American-made Japanese branded cars are lapsing in quality. An interesting trivia point: The most "American-made" car regarding the use of American-made parts and American worker construction is....the Toyota Camry, narrowly beating out the Ford F150 truck.
on October 10,2012 | 11:44AM
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