Concern as Toyota extends its recall to SA

TOYOTA SA said yesterday it has been fielding calls from worried local Toyota owners concerned that their cars could possibly be defective.

This follows Toyota Motor Corporation's decision on Tuesday to extend its recall of millions of its vehicles to South Africa, the rest of Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Toyota, which has its headquarters in Japan, started recalling cars in the US, China and Europe last week after the discovery of an accelerator pedal problem.

So far as many as 8,1million vehicles are affected by the recall worldwide.

Toyota SA spokesperson Leo Kok said: "We have received calls from owners, though the volume appears to be low."

He stressed that none of the manufacturer's local vehicles have as yet been found to be faulty in the same sense as those in the US.

"We are acting pre-emptively to make sure that the problem does not appear locally. We have no indication yet of which vehicles are involved as our technical team is busy looking at it in detail. We will be in a position to make an announcement very soon. All vehicles sold locally and exported are under investigation."

Toyota SA exports Corollas to Europe.

Kok said a technical task team that has been appointed to look into the issue will reveal details such as the number and models that have been affected.

Major Toyota SA dealers said they have not had calls from worried Toyota owners.

Rand Stadium Toyota's Greg Harrison said: "We haven't had anything in this country as yet."

Imperial Toyota's dealer principal Mike Walldorf also said he has not had any calls from worried customers.

Toyota in the US has lost sales and is struggling to repair its reputation. It suffered a sharp drop in US sales last month as the recall and unprecedented sales halt allowed rivals to grab market share.

The Japanese giant, which overtook General Motors in 2008 as the top-selling car maker, has been hit by over 100 complaints in the US and Japan about brake problems with the popular Prius hybrid.

The new Prius gas-electric hybrid, which went on sale in Japan and the US last year, is not part of the recalls. - Additional reporting by AFP and Reuters