Toyota Motor Co. announced a safety recall Thursday for 1.13 million Toyota Corolla and Matrix models from the 2005-2008 model years. It was the beleaguered company’s 15th recall of the year. Also included in the recall, but not the release, are 199,163 Pontiac Vibe models from same model years because of a faulty powertrain control.
During the past year, Toyota consistently denied that there was a stalling problem with the vehicles, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened up a more detailed investigation into the problem last week as consumer complaints continued to appear.
NHTSA, of course, is under heavy criticism for dismissing complaints about Toyota safety matters, and two former Toyota employees were working at the safety agency on Toyota matters while unintended acceleration and floor mat entrapment complaints were dismissed.
Compounding the problem is the fact that Toyota in the U.S. does not have the authority to recall vehicles, only the parent company in Japan can, as was revealed during harshly critical U.S. Congressional hearings on Toyota quality and safety matters.
The 2-wheel-drive Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix are sister vehicles built between April 2004 and January 2008 at the former New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. joint venture in California between GM and Toyota. The vehicles were designed and engineered by Toyota. Toyota closed the unionized plant in its largest U.S. market this past April in favor of moving production to a new non-union plant in Alabama, which will build the next generation 2012 Corolla – the world’s most popular nameplate since surpassing the previous tile holder, the Volkswagen Beetle.