TOKYO – Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it will extend its U.S. car recall to Europe due to problems with gas pedals, but is unsure how many vehicles will be affected — a fresh blow to the world's largest automaker as it struggles to salvage its safety reputation.
The company on Wednesday suspended U.S. sales of eight models — including the Camry, America's top-selling car — to fix faulty gas pedals that could stick and cause acceleration without warning.
Last week, it issued a U.S. recall for the same eight models, affecting 2.3 million vehicles, and on Thursday announced the recall of an additional 1.09 million vehicles in the U.S.
In a statement, the company said it would directly communicate with European customers with vehicles that are affected by a problem with worn accelerator pedal mechanisms that may "stick in a partially depressed position or return slowly to the idle position."
"Toyota is making every effort to address this situation for our customers as quickly as possible," it said.
House lawmakers, meanwhile, said they intend to hold a Feb. 25 hearing to review the complaints of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. "Like many consumers, I am concerned by the seriousness and scope of Toyota's recent recall announcements," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. In a statement, Toyota pledged its "full cooperation" with the committee.
The problem is rare, it said, and customers who are concerned should contact Toyota Customer Service for help before recall instructions are issued.
The company is already using different parts in models it is now producing in Europe and says it has "no need or intention to stop production in Europe," it said.
Toyota said a driver whose car is affected may notice that the pedal is harder to depress and slower to return.
"A rough or chattered feeling may also be experienced when depressing/releasing the accelerator pedal," Toyota said.
Toyota is not a major player in Europe, where it ranked No. 8 by sales last year, with a 5 percent share of the market. Its models have fared badly as customers were nudged toward smaller fuel-efficient models by cash-for-clunkers government handouts.
The company sold 730,831 cars in the 27-nation European Union, Norway and Iceland in 2009 — down 4.7 percent from a year earlier. Sales of the luxury Lexus line fell by more than a quarter.