Thursday, June 2, 2011

Toyota Prius Recall

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 106,000 units of its first-generation Prius hybrid vehicle to fix a power steering problem that can make the car difficult to turn.

About 52,000 of the cars were sold in the United States and 48,000 in Japan, Toyota said.
Toyota recalled 2001-2003 model year Prii because nuts securing the pinion shaft in the steering gear box can become loose over time. In a worse case, drivers can notice “significant increased steering effort when making a left turn,” the company said.
Meanwhile, Toyota said it is ramping up its return to full production following the March 11 earthquake that paralyzed Japan’s automotive supply chain and shut down assembly plants.
Toyota says its Japanese operations will be back to 90 percent normal this month, while output in Europe, China and Thailand returns to nearly 100 percent by the end of June.
Improved expectations
The revised schedule marks an improvement over the 70 percent utilization rate Toyota had earlier predicted for its Japanese plants in June. The world’s largest automaker still expects its U.S. plants to operate at about 70 percent normal through July, a spokesman said.
Toyota is publicly sticking to its November or December target for a return to full global output. But that benchmark means being able to fill any order for any car in any variant.
Hitting raw volume targets will likely come earlier.
A person familiar with Toyota’s plan says the carmaker now expects annual production for the year through Dec. 31 to rebound to the same level as last year, despite the earthquake.
Toyota is expected to recoup lost output by ramping up production in second half, partly by working extra days and increasing line speed. Last year, Toyota made 7.62 million vehicles.
Complaints received
Separately, Toyota said it received the first complaint in Japan in August 2007. Since then, there have been a total of 28 complaints in Japan and one from the United States.

Toyota is investigating one minor accident that may be linked to the problem. The Prius, now in its third generation, is the world’s best-selling hybrid vehicle.

Toyota said its dealers will install improved nuts to secure the pinion shaft at no charge to customers. The repair will take about four hours, it estimated.

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