Toyota Motor Corp (NYSE:TM) (TYO: 7203) is recalling approximately 2.87 million sports utility vehicles (SUVs) worldwide including more than 1,124,000 in the United States due to seatbelt problems.
The recall also affects 625,000 vehicles in Europe, 434,000 vehicles in China, and 177,000 vehicles in Japan.
The Japanese automaker said the recall covers RAV4 SUVs Model Year 2006 to 2012 and Model Year 2012 to 2014, RAV4 EV sold in the United States and Vanguard SUV Model Year 2005 to 2016 sold in Japan.
Toyota will fix the seatbealt defect without charge to customers
During a deadly accident in Canada and a crash in the United States that injured a passenger, the rear seatbelts of the SUVs separated. Toyota cannot confirm whether the fatality or injury is connected to the defect prompting its decision to recall the SUV’s, according to the company’s spokesman Kayo Doi in an e-mail to Bloomberg.
In a press statement, Toyota explained that the recalled vehicles are equipped with lap-shoulder seatbelts in both second-row outboard seats. In the event of a very severe frontal crash, a portion of the lap belt webbing could come in contact and cut by the metal seat cushion frame. The seatbelt will not be able to restrain the passenger properly if that happens, which could increase the risk of injury.
Toyota said it will add plastic covers to the metal frame without charge to customers.
RAV 4 is expected to become Toyota’s biggest seller over the next 5 years
In December, Toyota Senior Vice President Bob Carter said, the RAV4 is becoming one of the most important vehicles for Toyota as it is expected to surpass Camry, and to become the biggest seller over the next five years. Camry is the auto industry’s top-selling car in the United States over the past 14.
Market observers suggested that the seatbelt problem poses a risk to RAV4’s image. Toyota issued the recall on the SUVs after the regulator in Canada reported that the seatbelts were damaged during a crash-test in October, according to Ms. Doi.
Toyota is among the 14 automakers recalling approximately24 million vehicles to replace the Takata airbags, which have defective inflators that can create excess pressure and potentially explode that can cause serious injury or death. Older RAV 4 models are included in the Takata air bag recalls.