Toyota recall tops 7 million vehicles

AFP-JIJI, AP

Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it would recall 7.43 million vehicles globally over a fire risk caused by a power-window defect in models including the popular Camry and Corolla.

The recall by Japan’s biggest carmaker is the latest to hit the firm after it called back millions of other vehicles in recent years, which dealt a heavy blow to its once-stellar reputation for safety.

About 2.47 million vehicles will be recalled in the United States, said a spokeswoman for the firm.

Another 2.8 million cars would be recalled in Europe and China, while the remainder were spread over the world, including Japan, Canada, Australia and the Middle East, she said.

The latest recall comes about two months after Toyota added two models to a controversial 2009 recall launched after floor mats became trapped under the accelerator and were linked to accidents that allegedly caused dozens of deaths.

Toyota’s mishandling of the initial problem and other reports of sudden, unintended acceleration led to the recall of more than 12 million vehicles worldwide, a U.S. congressional probe, more than $50 million in fines from U.S. regulators and public apologies by its chief.

Toyota has since worked hard to regain its reputation for safety, while at the same time suffering from the impact of the economic crisis, a strong yen and the devastating 2011 quake and tsunami.

The Japanese firm managed to regain its position as the world’s No. 1 automaker in the first half of 2012, stealing back the lead from U.S. giant General Motors.

The latest recall is another blow to Toyota, whose business in China has already been hit hard by an escalating territorial row over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

After a series of anti-Japanese protests in China last month, Japanese automakers temporarily closed some of their China factories. Production is back up this week — but reduced to lower levels as demand has collapsed.