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Toyota fix for sticking pedals satisfies U.S.

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Toyota fix for sticking pedals satisfies U.S.

Automotive News Europe -- January 31, 2010 17:57 CET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. safety regulators are satisfied with a Toyota Motor Corp. plan for fixing an accelerator problem that is part of a widening global recall and unprecedented sales and production halt, a government official said.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration engineers have reviewed Toyota's proposal for preventing gas pedals in eight models from sticking and have raised no objections, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has yet to be publicly announced.

Toyota said in a statement late Saturday that it had reviewed the pedal fix with NHTSA and was finalizing details. The automaker plans to make an announcement about the remedy Monday, the Associated Press reported.

The developments follow the Jan. 21 recall of 2.3 million Toyota-brand vehicles in the United States to address gas pedals that can return too slowly to their original position or even, with age, get stuck and cause unintended acceleration. Last week, Toyota halted deliveries of the models and said they won't be built this week.

The remedy being prepared by Toyota and supplier CTS Corp. involves a shim, also called a spacer, that will be placed in the accelerator to keep it from sticking, sources have said.

NHTSA regulators are not required to approve the fix but can reject the approach if they consider it inadequate.

In addition to developing a dealer fix for cars already on the road, Toyota has been working on a new part that can go into cars on the assembly line. CTS, of Elkhart, Indiana, said Thursday it is shipping replacement parts to Toyota's assembly plants in North America.

Escalating crisis

Problems related to unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles are suspected of causing crashes that led to 19 fatalities over the past decade, government officials have said. In addition to the vehicles recalled for the sticking pedal mechanisms, Toyota has called back 5.4 million vehicles in the United States beginning last fall for floor mats that may jam gas pedals.

Toyota is modifying pedals, redesigning mats and taking other steps to address that issue.

Nearly 2 million vehicles also have been recalled in Europe. PSA/Peugeot-Citroen said on Saturday it would recall 100,000 Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1 models made at a factory in the Czech Republic where the French group and Toyota jointly make cars.

Some 75,000 Toyota vehicles have been recalled in China.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda apologized for the recall, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported on Friday.

"We're extremely sorry to have made customers uneasy," Toyoda said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in comments that were broadcast by NHK.

Toyoda last commented publicly on the matter in October, when he expressed regret for the deaths of four people in a California crash linked to the defects last year.

LaHood's review

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last week that NHTSA, which is part of his agency, closely reviewed Toyota's proposed fix for the sticky pedals.

LaHood said he was satisfied with Toyota's overall response to the acceleration issue, which has dented its reputation and prompted rivals, like government-owned General Motors Co., to try and lure its customers to their brands with incentives.

Sources briefed on Toyota's U.S. sales plans told Reuters on Friday the suspension of deliveries would continue until at least mid-February.

A resumption assumes a smooth and swift rollout of a remedy to fix faulty accelerators in vehicles already sold or for sale at dealerships, the sources said.

Toyota announces third-quarter financial results on Feb. 4. Analysts estimate the sales halt could cost Toyota at least $550 million in operating profit per month.

Separate congressional committees have scheduled February hearings into the matter. LaHood, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and Toyota North American President Yoshimi Inaba are expected to testify.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100131/COPY/301319973/1147#ixzz0eIEbQaFB

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