Japanese automaker Toyota ordered a new mass auto recall on Friday, pulling up to 1.8 million vehicles from Europe, as rivals Honda recalled 646,000 of its cars worldwide.
The latest in a series of recalls which has now hit almost eight million Toyota cars worldwide, was again due to an accelerator problem and covered eight separate models and dates ranging back to February 2005.
That is equivalent to Toyota\'s entire worldwide sales last year of 7.81 million vehicles.
"The precise number of involved units is still under investigation but may reach up to 1.8 million vehicles," Toyota said in a statement from Brussels on the new European recall.
Meanwhile, Honda\'s worldwide recall, due to a window switch problem, affects Fit/Jazz cars made between 2002 and 2008 in Japan, China, Brazil, Thailand, Malaysia and India.
Honda said that about 10 percent of its recalled cars would need a replacement switch, to avent overheating and potential fire.
The Toyota models involved are the AYGO, iQ, Yaris, Auris, Corolla, Verso, Avensis and RAV4 series. The company was at pains to state that its luxury Lexus models were unaffected.
"We understand that the current situation is creating concerns and we deeply regret it," Tadashi Arashima, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe added.
Toyota said parts supplier CTS had begun making pedals based on a new design that resolved the problem and the two firms were testing a remedy.
Engineers were believed to be putting the finishing touches to a repair whereby it would insert a "spacer" in the pedal mechanism in order to increase the tension in a spring and reduce the risk of sticking.
Toyota\'s woes went into overdrive last week when it announced a recall of 2.3 million automobiles in the United States due to the accelerator pedal fears.
It is also recalling almost 5.3 million US vehicles to replace floor mats that could trap accelerator pedals.
Spokesman Etienne Plas said that "at least 1.7 million" of the cars already recalled outside Europe potentially suffered from both problems.
Taking that and the latest European recall into account, that left the total number of vehicles pulled worldwide at 7.7 million.
Toyota, which overtook General Motors in 2008 as the world\'s top-selling automaker, has been bedevilled by a series of safety issues that have raised questions about whether it sacrificed quality for quantity.
The company\'s shares suffered another drop on Friday, closing down 1.96 percent at 3,490 yen -- having plunged about 14 percent this week.
A key US House of Representatives panel said on Thursday that it would hold a hearing on the accelerator issues on February 25.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that such sudden acceleration events in Toyota vehicles have led to 19 deaths in the past decade, the committee said.
Ford said on Thursday that it was suspending production of a commercial vehicle sold in China that uses a pedal part made by CTS, the same US firm that makes pedals for Toyota, though based on the Japanese company\'s own design specifications.
Toyota North America "has been working closely with supplier CTS on a revised design that effectively remedies the problem associated with accelerator pedals," it said.
The Toyota AYGO recalls cover the period from February 2005 to August 2009; the iQ from November 2008 to November 2009; the Yaris from November 2005 to September 2009; and the Auris from October 2006 to 5 January, 2010.
The Corolla period dates from October 2006 to December 2009; the Verso from February 2009 to 5 January, 2010; the Avensis from November 2008 to December 2009; and the RAV4 from November 2005 to November 2009.
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