The wrangling between Toyota Motor Corp. and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the largest recall ever in history has concluded with the carmaker's pledge to reshape or replace accelerator pedals on 3.8 million affected vehicles. The recall was announced in late September, citing the risk that a loose floor mat could force down the accelerator and causing crashes.
This was suspected to be the problem that had resulted to an accident that killed five persons. Toyota has stated that the problem is linked to floor mats and not a vehicle design flaw or problems related to braking, fuel or accelerator systems. To cut down the risk of jamming, Toyota said that it will reconfigure the shape of accelerator pedals.
Toyota will also replace original equipment floor mats with redesigned mats and as an extra measure of confidence, a brake override system on the involved Camry, Avalon, and Lexus ES 350, IS 350 and IS 250 models will be installed.
The system will shut off engine power if drivers press the accelerator pedal and brake pedal simultaneously. By the end of the year, Toyota targets that it will have completed sending first-class letters to owners of the Toyota Camry, ES 350, and Avalon.
Owners of the five other models will be notified throughout 2010. In the first few months of 2010, dealers will be trained to reshape the pedal. Starting in April, replacement parts shaped the same way as the reconfigured pedal will be available at dealerships.
Customers who initially have their pedals reshaped may elect to have them replaced. The NHTSA said that the discussions had included other vehicle-based factors that may have contributed to pedal interference and a driver's ability to control and stop the car when the accelerator gets stuck.
Toyota has been consistently saying that the cost of any related repair work will have no effect on its business as the company has set aside nearly JPY500 billion ($5.6 billion) in provisions for recalls.
Last month, NHTSA asked Toyota to provide information related to complaints over rusted frames on 2000 and 2001 model years of its Toyota Tundra pickups. On Oct. 6, 2009, the NHTSA commenced a preliminary evaluation of the issue and gave the carmaker a Nov. 20 deadline.
Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons remarked that it's still too early to speculate what the company would do for the Tundra, adding that the agency is looking at the cross member that supports the spare tire. He noted that the cross member is only one specific portion and not the entire frame. The frames for the Tundra were manufactured by Dana Corp.