Toyota to recall 7.4 million vehicles globally on power window glitch
Recalls include 1.39 million in Europe; No accidents, injuries reported
TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. announced the biggest single automotive recall since 1996 to fix malfunctioning power window switches, saying it will pull back 7.43 million vehicles worldwide, including 1.39 million in Europe, 2.47 million in the United States and 1.4 million in China.
The recall, intended to fix a switch on the driver's side, primarily affects cars in the three markets.
The vehicles recalled include some models of the Yaris, Vios, Corolla, Matrix, Auris, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, Tundra, Sequoia, xB and xD produced between 2005 and 2010, Toyota said.
The power window switches can be repaired in about forty minutes, the company added in a statement.
"The process to repair [the power window switch] is not an extensive one," spokeswoman Monika Saito said, adding that it would involve putting heat-resistant grease on the switches, or exchanging them.
Toyota's U.S. news release said the problem could lead to fire if commercially available lubricants were used on the switch. The company said it would be applying special fluorine grease to the switches of recalled vehicles.
The company hasn't received any reports of injuries or accidents because of the issue, said Joichi Tachikawa, a Tokyo-based spokesman.
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 recalled more than 10 million units in 2009 and 2010 for defects associated with unintended acceleration.
Toyota declined to say how much the recall would cost, or what impact it may have on future earnings. Koichi Sugimoto, senior analyst at BNP Paribas Securities in Tokyo, estimated the recall could cost at least 10 billion yen ($128 million).
The first time the problem was reported was in September 2008 in the United States, Saito said.
The firm is also recalling 650,000 vehicles in Australia and Asia, 490,000 vehicles in the Near and Middle East, 240,000 vehicles in Canada and 330,000 vehicles elsewhere, said Shino Yamada, another spokeswoman for Toyota.
"The volume is big, and doesn't look good," Satoru Takada, an auto analyst at Toward the Infinite World Inc., a securities research company, said by telephone in Tokyo 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."
The move comes a day after Toyota reported that its sales fell 48.9 percent year-on-year in China in September. Japanese car brands have suffered as a result of an outbreak of anti-Japan sentiment in China in response to a territorial dispute between the two countries.
In 1996, Ford Motor Co. pulled back 8 million vehicles to replace defective ignition switches that could have caused engine fires.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this reportContact Automotive News