Toyota started recalling more than 90,000 luxury Lexus and Crown vehicles today in Japan over defective engines - the latest setback for the automaker beset with quality problems.
Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said recalls in overseas markets will follow soon, totaling about 270,000 vehicles globally. That includes: 138,000 vehicles in the US, 15,000 in Europe, 10,000 in the Middle East, 6,000 in China, 4,000 in Canada, and 8,000 in other regions.
Toyota told the Japanese government today it was recalling 91,903 vehicles for flaws in the valve springs, a crucial engine component, that could make the automobile stall while in motion. "We apologise for inconveniencing our customers. We hope to fix the problem soon," Nolasco said.
The quality problem affecting top-of-the-line products comes as Toyota struggles to move on from massive global recalls that started in Oct. The latest woes come on top of a recall last week for 17,000 Lexus hybrids after testing showed fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.
One on the list - the LS600h.
Analysts said today's recall does little to instill consumer confidence after Toyota president Akio Toyoda, facing shareholders last month, vowed to improve vehicle quality inspections.
"It is not doing a good job in communicating a message about what exactly it is doing to beef up quality checks," said Shotaro Noguchi, auto analyst with Nomura Securities in Tokyo. "So it is hard for people to believe Toyota is taking the customer's view as it is promising to do."
The company announced the latest quality problems last week. Some 180,000 of the defective automobiles were sold overseas, 138,000 of them in the United States.
No accidents or injuries have been reported because of the defect. About 220 complaints have been reported.
Toyota said it was replacing the valve spring in the recalled vehicles, produced between July 2005 and Aug 2008 - Lexus models GS350, GS450h, GS460, IS350, LS460, LS600h, LS600hL and Crown models.