Toyota Motor Corp said on Tuesday it was recalling 12,984 vehicles sold in South Korea due to floor mat problems, the latest in a string of safety problems and product recalls at the Japanese carmaker.
South Korea's transport ministry said it had found some carpet mats installed into Lexus ES350, Camry and Camry Hybrids could roll forward and interfere with accelerator pedals if they were not stuck to the floor.
The move comes as Toyota faces a proposed $16.4 million fine from U.S. regulators, the maximum penalty allowed under current laws, after the world's largest automaker failed to notify the government in a timely way about accelerator pedal flaws that were the subject of a massive recall in January.
It is a voluntary recall to remove risks of a possible misfortune that could arise in the future, Hisao Nakabayashi, president and CEO of Toyota's South Korea operations, told a news conference in Seoul.
The decision affects about a quarter of Toyota sales in Korea between January 2001 and March 2010, and follows the recall of 510 Prius hybrid cars in February in relation to a braking problem.
Toyota's head office in Tokyo said the problem was apparently unique to floor mats made and sold in South Korea and no accidents were reported in relation to the South Korea-sold models.
Nakabayashi was bombarded with a series of questions on why the South Korea was several months behind the United States over the floor mat-related recall.
But he drew a distinction between the South Korea move and recent U.S. recalls, saying floor mats used for the two markets were different.
The problem was restricted to floor mats, he added, saying accelerator pedals, which caused a recall of about 2.3 million vehicles in the United States earlier this year, are different for South Korea-sold units.
(Reporting by Kim Yeon-hee; Additional reporting by Ran Kim in TOKYO; Editing by Lincoln Feast)