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Toyota recalls 1.7 mn vehicles for fuel pump and pipe snag

Company spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said this is Toyota's biggest recall in six years and its second-biggest ever for a single defect in its vehicles.

ITGD Bureau | January 27, 2011 | Updated 13:26 IST

The rough weather for the crisis-ridden Toyota Motor Corp seems to continue, as the company announced on Wednesday that it would recall more than 1.7 million vehicles worldwide, bringing its total recalls to nearly 16 million since late 2009 - dealing a blow to its efforts to restore its reputation for quality.

Although the situation is different from last year, when Toyota attracted intense scrutiny from US safety regulators over unintended acceleration problems that were blamed for dozens of fatalities, the latest recall may make it harder for Toyota to convince investors that it has put its quality problems behind it.

Shares of Toyota, the world's top automaker, extended early declines and closed down nearly two per cent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange after the announcement.

"Toyota faces harsh competition from Honda, which is in a much better situation in the US market - this is reflected in its stock price, which now stands at multi-year highs," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management.

"That's why investors are a little nervous and sold Toyota when this negative news came out," he added.

Toyota was the only major automaker to see its sales fall in the United States last year and it just squeaked by General Motors Co to keep its spot at the top of the global sales ranking.

The biggest recall among those announced on Wednesday was to fix a faulty fuel pump and connecting pipe in 1.34 million vehicles, including the Noah minivans and other models sold in Japan as well as 1,41,000 Avensis units sold overseas.

Company spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said this is Toyota's biggest recall in six years and its second-biggest ever for a single defect in its vehicles.

Toyota said in a filing to Japan's transport ministry that no accidents had been reported because of the defects.

The Japanese company said it was also recalling around 3,35,000 Lexus units sold overseas, including about 2,45,000 sold in the US, due to trouble with a fuel pressure sensor connected to an engine fuel delivery pipe.

In two other filings on Wednesday, Toyota said it would recall about 75,000 Crown models and about 6,200 Townace vans in Japan to fix the same fault found in Lexus cars sold in the US and elsewhere.

However, Toyota's Hashimoto declined to say how much the latest recalls would cost the Japanese carmaker.

For the financial year to March, Toyota expects operating profit of about 380 billion yen ($4.6 billion), which is lower than the forecasts for both Honda Motor Co Ltd and Japan's No. 3 automaker Nissan Motor Co.

Toyota's last big recall so far was in October, when it said it would fix 1.66 million Avalons, Highlanders and other models worldwide, mainly for a defect in the master cylinder brake seal.

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