Toyota Motor Co. will recall about 550,000 vehicles – most of them in the U.S. – due to problems that could make the Lexus and Toyota models difficult to steer.
The announcement comes as the latest setback to an automaker that had hoped to end 2011 in full turnaround mode after a lengthy safety and quality scandal followed by sharp production cutbacks due to Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But the latest recall instead comes as Toyota is scaling back production at factories around the world due to flooding in Thailand which has left it short of critical parts.
Production problems and consequent inventory shortages resulted in a sharp, 18.5% decline in Toyota’s earnings for the July – September quarter, the maker announced yesterday. (For more on that story, Click Here.)
The latest recall brings to 14 million the number of vehicles Toyota has recalled worldwide since it revealed the first of several callbacks for so-called unintended acceleration in October 2009. The new problem involves a wide range of products, from the Toyota Camry sedan and Sienna minivan to the Lexus RX400h hybrid – more than 80% of which were sold in the U.S.