There has been a surge in the number of consumer complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over Toyota cars, the Associated Press reported this afternoon, with 34 fatalities since 2000 included in those complaints. The reasons for those deaths have not yet been confirmed by the agency.
Complaints about the 2010 Prius grew by nearly 1,000 since the latest recalls were announced more than a week ago, records show. Transportation Department spokeswoman Olivia Alair said NHTSA is quickly gathering information to help guide the federal government's examination of sudden acceleration, the Prius braking system and other safety issues. Toyota Motor Corp. has recalled 8.5 million vehicles globally during the past four months because of problems with gas pedals, floormats and brakes, threatening the safety and quality reputation of the world's No. 1 automaker. The government typically receives a surge in complaints following a recall.
In other Toyota news:
- Toyota may add more incentives or lengthen warranties after the current recall crisis is over, Group Vice President Bob Carter told the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando, Fla. He said that exact plans have not yet been worked out, according to the Associated Press.
- Carter also said that Toyota dealers have fixed more than 500,000 of the 2.3 million cars and trucks covered by the sticky gas pedal recall, and they are repairing about 50,000 cars every day. That jibes with the number he reported last week at the Chicago Auto Show.
- A Toyota exec apologized for the recalls to dealers in Orlando. “We're a quality brand and we stumbled. It's our fault," said Don Esmond, Toyota’s senior vice president for automotive operations in the U.S. "We'll correct it." Some Toyota dealers have complained because consumers think dealers are prohibited from selling any Toyotas. Those consumers aren’t aware that dealers are free to sell the cars once they are repaired. Carter says 88,000 of the 112,000 recalled cars on dealer lots have been repaired.