The day after the halt and production of eight Toyota models, including the Toyota Camry and Toyota Corolla, two of North America’s most popular cars, details of the unprecedented maneuver by the Japanese manufacturer provide a clearer and expansive scope of the problem.
USA Today reported in its January 28 edition, that Safety Research and Strategies, a Massachusetts-based safety research firm, said it has found 2,274 incidents of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles causing 275 crashes and at least 18 fatalities since 1999.
Toyota’s most recent problems became public last September.
In a statement, Toyota disclosed it had investigated isolated reports of sticking accelerator pedal mechanisms in some models without the presence of floor mats.
“There is a possibility that certain accelerator pedal mechanisms may, in rare instances, mechanically stick in a partly depressed position or return slowly to the idle position,” the company added.
Toyota’s first problem with various models occurred last September. Designated as a “Safety Improvement Campaign,” Toyota posted an “alert” on its website. It asked customers to remove driver’s side floor mats from seven models until the company found remedies because of the possibility they could cause accelerators to get stuck.
Subsequently, Toyota recalled 4.2 million vehicles last November in response to concerns about the pedals becoming stuck because of floor mats.
“The sticking accelerator pedal recall is separate from the ongoing campaigns involving certain Toyota and Lexus vehicles to reduce the risk of pedal entrapment by incorrect or out of place accessory floor mats,” the company noted. “The safety of customers and restoring confidence in Toyota vehicles is our first priority.”
The pedal recall and sales suspensions affect the 2009-2010 RAV4 models, 2009-2010 Corollas, 2009-2010 Matrixes, 2005-2010 Avalons, 2007-2010 Camrys, 2010 Highlanders, 2007-2010 Tundras and 2008-2010 Sequoias.
More problems occurred late last year.
Four people died Dec. 26 in Southlake, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, when a 2008 Toyota Avalon sped off the road, through a fence and landed upside down in a pond. The car’s floor mats were found in the trunk of the car, where owners had been advised to put them as part of the first recall.
Although local and federal investigators are still trying to determine why the car went out of control, the suspected cause is a stuck accelerator pedal.
One month later, Toyota in aftermath of the two recalls and the deadly accident, announced its sales and production halt.