By Justin Hyde, Detroit Free Press
WASHINGTON – Toyota has repaired about 1.7 million vehicles under its two recalls for sudden acceleration problems, and expects U.S. sales to rise up to 35 percent for March versus a year ago, its top U.S. sales executive said Tuesday.
Jim Lentz also said Toyota welcomed the additional moves by the Obama administration to probe vehicle electronics with the help of scientists from NASA, and said the company’s investigations into sudden acceleration remained focused on mechanical issues.
“We have 40 million cars with electronic throttle controls, and not one case of failure of ETCs that has resulted in unintended acceleration,” Lentz told an auto dealer forum sponsored by the National Automobile Dealers Association and IHS Global Insight.
Lentz said most of the recalled models repaired so far were covered by the recall for sticking pedals. The earlier recall for floor mats will take longer, as some models need more modifications under the recalls.
Toyota had boosted incentives at the beginning of March following the recall of 5.6 million vehicles. The deals were strong enough that Honda was forced to follow with its own cheap loan and lease offers. One analyst has speculated that Toyota could outsell all other automakers in the United States this month.
Lentz told reporters that Toyota might have offered too many incentives on a few models, but said the company would need to work harder to win back non-Toyota owners.
Although Toyota has said its two recalls cover all known issues that can trigger sudden acceleration, roughly half of the complaints to NHTSA this year involve Toyota models not covered by either recall. Lentz said those could be a combination of driver error, publicity or other issues.