Toyota yesterday recalled 6.39 million vehicles worldwide for five different problems, dealing another blow to the world's largest carmaker, whose reputation for quality and safety has been dented in recent years.
No injuries or crashes have been reported as a result of the problems, which affect 29 models. But two fires have been reported related to one of them, a defective engine starter that can keep the motor running.
Among the problems are a driver's seat defect, steering column problems and the faulty engine starter, the company said. The vehicles affected include the Corolla sedan, the RAV4 sport utility vehicle and Yaris subcompact.
The vehicles, made over the past decade, include 1.08 million in Japan, 2.3 million in North America, about 770,000 in Europe and 62,000 in China, Toyota said. In Hong Kong and Macau, 2,346 Ractis and Yaris models were recalled.
The company did not say now much the recall would cost and it was not clear if the faults stemmed from Toyota's suppliers or its manufacturing process.
Some vehicles were recalled for more than one problem. The affected vehicles include 27 Toyota models, in addition to the Pontiac Vibe and the Subaru Trezia, which were produced between April 2004 and August last year.
The Vibe, which is a General Motors model, is also involved because Toyota and GM made cars at the same plant in California and the recalled model is the same as the Toyota Matrix.
Subaru is partly owned by Toyota, and the Trezia was the same as the Toyota Vitz.
Despite record sales and bumper profits, Toyota has been fighting to protect its brand after earlier recalls and in the wake of a US$1.2 billion payment last month to settle US criminal charges.
In October 2012, Toyota announced a global recall of 7.43 million vehicles, including its popular Camry and Corolla models, over a possible fire risk, while in February it recalled 1.9 million of its signature Prius hybrid cars.
The firm's Tokyo-listed shares took a hit yesterday, falling 3.07 per cent.
There are a total of 6.76 million problems that need to be fixed. "Since a few models are involved in more than one recall, the total number of vehicles that will be remedied is 6.39 million," Toyota said.
The US$1.2 billion Toyota paid to settle the US criminal charges stemmed from claims that it lied to safety regulators and the public as it tried to cover up deadly accelerator defects. Dozens of deaths were blamed on the problems, which caused vehicles to speed out of control and fail to respond to braking.
Toyota eventually recalled 12 million vehicles worldwide in 2009 and 2010 at a cost of US$2.4 billion.
In reaching the settlement, Toyota admitted that it lied when it insisted in 2009 that it had addressed the "root cause" of the problem by fixing floor mats that could trap the accelerator. As part of the cover-up, Toyota scrapped plans to fix the "sticky pedal" defect in the US and told employees not to put anything about the design changes in writing.
The latest recall came as Japan's Jiji Press news agency reported yesterday that Toyota's global vehicle sales in the financial year to March topped 10 million for the first time.
Additional reporting by Associated Press, Reuters, Ada Lee