BEIJING – Toyota Motor Corp. said it is investigating after China said some of its models were made with broken or malfunctioning parts that caused accidents.
The Aug. 29 statement from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said malfunctioning brakes and broken drive shafts led to accidents that “caused many casualties” in the first half of the year.
The agency didn’t seek a recall and didn’t give details about the accidents it was referring to.
“All we know so far is what was included in the agency’s statement,” Liu Peng, Toyota’s Beijing-based spokesman, said Thursday. “We are looking into the issue and will try to clarify the facts.”
The agency said locally made Toyota models, including the Camry sedan and the Reiz compact, as well as imported Land Cruiser sport utility vehicles, were involved in the accidents.
Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co. recalled almost 34,000 vehicles in China last month after Toyota recalled millions of vehicles in the U.S. in 2009 and 2010 over several defects.
“It’s odd that they’ve identified problems, but there are no recalls tied to them,” said Michael Smitka, a professor of economics at Washington and Lee University in the U.S., who studies Asian manufacturing.
The defects identified “are two issues about which Toyota would be quite sensitive,” because it has had recalls related to them in the U.S., Smitka said.
However, those involved light trucks and not the models mentioned in China. Toyota has been expanding rapidly in China, making supply-chain management difficult, he said.
China is stepping up efforts to control vehicle quality as rising automobile ownership leads to more road crashes. Traffic accidents rose 36 percent to 3.9 million in 2010, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Automakers recalled 672,989 vehicles in China in the first half, 628,487 of which were domestically made, according to the quality watchdog.
Toyota’s sales of locally made cars in China fell 15 percent in the first half to 316,191 units, according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
In February, China asked Toyota to explain why it wasn’t included in a global recall.
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