Houston Community News >> Toyota Delays New Models

8/26/2006 - Toyota Motor Corp. may delay rolling out its new models in an attempt to improve quality control and reduce the number of recalls, president Katsuaki Watanabe said in Tokyo on Friday.

                                 Special Advertisement

Watanabe's announcement came just as the company announced a recall of 20,069 Crown sedans manufactured in China because of defective rubber strips along the windshields. The rubber strips may come loose when the car travels at high speed, posing a hazard to other cars and pedestrians. No injuries or accidents related to the problem have been reported.

"We try to affirm each process," Watanabe said at a news conference in Tokyo. "And in that process, some may be delayed, and some may be on time." The cars, manufactured between Feb. 21 and Sept. 20, 2005, will be pulled from the Chinese market on Monday. Toyota has faced a large number of recalls in part thanks to a decision to use the same parts across different model lines.

Japanese authorities have also begun a criminal investigation into three Toyota employees accused of failing to fix and report a faulty steering wheel, which may have caused a 2004 car accident that injured five people.

The U.S. government has also launched an investigation into the 2004-2005 Toyota Sienna minivans after users complained that the liftgate malfunctioned, causing the hatchback door to close unexpectedly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it received eight associated complaints and four reports of injuries.

In Canada this year, Toyota issued a recall, saying that tires on certain 2006 Tacoma trucks should be inspected and may need to be replaced. The Japanese carmaker also issued a recall for the steering shafts on certain models of the Toyota Prius.

Despite these problems, Toyota, the world's No. 2 automaker, has recently experienced a period of growth and boosted production at its plants to meet demand for its fuel-efficient cars in the U.S., Canada, China, Thailand, Mexico and Russia.

(Contributed by AP)