Toyota to announce pedal fix plan in U.S. on Monday

 @ibtimes
on February 01 2010 5:48 AM

Toyota Motor Corp will announce on Monday details of its plan to fix accelerator pedals that have led to the recall of 2.4 million cars in the United States as it scrambles to put its worst public relations crisis behind it.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., its local sales company, said it would issue a news release at 6:30 a.m. EST, followed by a conference call for media at 11:00 a.m. EST.

Toyota, which surpassed General Motors Co two years ago as the world's top automaker with its reputation of top quality and reliability, has been forced to halt sales of eight recalled models in North America, including the top-selling Camry, until it comes up with a fix.

Toyota is also suspending production of the models in North America starting on Monday, for a week. It remains unclear whether production can resume next week.

Fears of a heavy and protracted blow to Toyota's sales and bottom line have knocked off about $22 billion from its market value in the last week.

On Monday afternoon, Toyota shares were trading down 1.7 percent at 3,430 yen, faring better than most other Japanese auto stocks. Honda Motor Co was down 3.8 percent, while Nissan Motor shed 2.2 percent.

Sources briefed on Toyota's plans have said the carmaker expects to begin repairing or replacing flawed accelerator pedals on 2.4 million vehicles as early as this week. If all goes smoothly, Toyota could limit losses to a four-week sales shutdown.

The remedy being readied by Toyota and its supplier CTS Corp involves a shim, also called a spacer, that will be placed in the accelerator to keep it from sticking, sources said.

Toyota also kicked off a media blitz on Sunday with full-page ads in major newspapers alerting consumers to the recall and production shutdown. Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., is also due to appear on a U.S. morning TV show, the Today Show.

A company source has said top executives from Toyota headquarters were preparing to address media in Japan soon after the solution is announced in the United States to quell criticism over the lack so far of an official public apology.

(Additional reporting by John Crawley in WASHINGTON; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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