TOKYO – Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) said Tuesday it was recalling about 420,000 vehicles globally, including some Echo and Prius models sold in the U.S., over a faulty engine part.
The faulty part is the latest in a string of problems requiring recalls by Toyota, raising doubts over whether the automaker can maintain quality standards amid booming sales.
The recall affects 268,570 vehicles sold in Japan across 12 models manufactured in 2001, including Corollas, the compact cars Vitz and Platz and the hybrid Prius, the company said in a statement submitted to Japan's Transport Ministry.
A faulty engine part could lead to an oil leak in the engine and cause it to stop, the statement said. There have been no accidents blamed on the fault, according to Toyota.
The recall also affects about 150,000 cars sold overseas, mainly in the United States and Canada, Toyota spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said. These autos were also manufactured in 2001.
In the United States, 24,490 cars sold under the name Echo and Yaris, as well as 8,476 Prius vehicles are affected by the recall, she said.
Also Tuesday, Toyota subsidiary Hino Motors Ltd. recalled 1,913 trucks across five 2004-05 models, also due to engine problems.
Hino said defective engine brackets could break under pressure, causing the trucks' engines to stall. The recall affects Hino's Dutro model, as well as Dyna and Toyoace trucks manufactured by Hino and sold under the Toyota brand.
The engines of an additional 10,310 Toyota and Hino trucks manufactured in 2003-05 may have faulty turbine blades, the two companies said.
The trucks will be repaired for free though the fault isn't serious enough to meet Japan's recall standards, according to Hashimoto.
The recalls come after police investigated three Toyota officials on suspicion of professional negligence in allegedly shirking recalls for eight years and not fixing a defect that may have caused an accident.
Five people were injured in a crash in 2004 in southern Japan when steering failed in a 1993 Toyota Hilux Surf sport utility vehicle, causing it to swing out of control. Toyota had received five reports of problems with the steering by 1996, but no recall was made until 2004, the company said.
The investigation was another embarrassment for Toyota, whose once impeccable image has been tarnished by a number of recalls.
Earlier this month, the company recalled 367,500 Toyota and Lexus sport utility vehicles in the U.S. because a piece in the front console area could come loose and interfere with the gas pedal.
Toyota has been reporting booming sales in recent years and is growing so rapidly some analysts expect it to overtake struggling General Motors Corp. (GM) of the U.S. as the world's biggest automaker in coming years.