Toyota is considering a recall of its top-selling Corolla after complaints about power-steering problems — another blow to a company already reeling from a string of safety fears.
Executive in charge of quality control Shinichi Sasaki said it was taking seriously the complaints about power steering difficulties in the Corolla, the world's best-selling car.
He said drivers may perceive a strange feeling as though they were losing control over the steering, but it was unclear whether the issue was with the braking system or a problem with the tyres. There have been fewer than 100 complaints. He said it was still uncertain if a recall would be necessary, but the company is considering one. The number of affected vehicles is unclear.
The company was putting customers first in a renewed effort to salvage its reputation and would do whatever is necessary if a fix is needed, Mr Sasaki said. Toyota has recalled 8.5 million vehicles globally during the past four months because of problems with sticking accelerator pedals, floor mats trapping accelerators, and faulty brake programming.
The US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing on February 24 on Toyota's pedal problems. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled one the next day. Toyota reiterated its promise to put customers first in beefing up quality controls.
It promised a brake-override system in all future models worldwide that will add a safety measure against acceleration problems that are behind the recent massive recalls. The system is a mechanism that overrides the car if the accelerator and brake pedals are pressed at the same time.
“We are not covering up anything and we are not running away from anything,” chief executive Akio Toyoda said. Toyota has also commissioned an independent research organisation to test its electronic throttle system, and will release the findings as they become available.
Toyota took full-page adverts in major Japanese newspapers today to apologise for the massive recalls, most of which affect cars outside of Japan.
“We apologise from the bottom of our hearts for the great inconvenience and worries that we have caused you all,” the adverts say.
Reports of deaths in the US connected to sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles have surged in recent weeks, with the alleged toll reaching 34 since 2000, according to new consumer data gathered by the US government.
Under federal law, car makers must notify the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within five days of determining that a safety defect exists and promptly conduct a recall.