Toyota to Recall 533,000 Sequoia SUVs and Tundra Pickup Trucks

Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) plans to recall about 533,000 Sequoia SUVs and Tundra pickup trucks in the United States to repair faulty components that could make the vehicles difficult to steer.

Six injuries and 11 accidents were reported as a result of the defect, Japan's top auto maker said on Friday.

Toyota, on its way to becoming the world's biggest auto maker ahead of General Motors Corp. (GM), has vowed to step up its quality efforts after a rise in vehicle recalls and increased scrutiny from Japanese media over quality issues.

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The latest recall covers certain 2004 to 2007 model year Sequoias and 2004 to 2006 model year Tundras, both built at Toyota's Indiana plant, the auto maker's U.S. sales unit said in a statement.

Toyota as a policy does not disclose estimated recall costs. A spokesman said the auto maker has funds reserved against quality costs at all times and expects no impact on its earnings.

Toyota last year recalled more than a million vehicles in Japan and 760,000 units in the United States, but the publicity has done little to hurt it. Toyota boosted its global sales by 9 percent in 2006, fueled largely by a 13 percent jump in sales in the United States.

Toyota and its premium Lexus brand are perennial outperformers in the closely watched J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey in the United States, although the Toyota brand ranked second among non-premium brands in 2006, behind South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co..

"Toyota has a lot of goodwill built up," said Christopher Richter, an auto analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, adding that recall numbers would naturally rise with an increase in vehicles sold.

Recalls have also been on the rise across the industry as car makers use common components on various models to save costs. The Tundra and Sequoia, both of which are due for a full remodeling, share most of the same components.

Toyota will notify owners starting in mid-February and repair the defective front suspension lower ball joints free of charge.

Toyota's shares were flat at 7,980 yen in Tokyo, roughly in line with the Nikkei average.

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