WASHINGTON (AP/WCCO) — Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 2.17 million vehicles in the United States on Thursday to address accelerator pedals that could become entrapped in floor mats or jammed in driver’s side carpeting, prompting federal regulators to close its investigation into the embattled automaker.
The Transportation Department said it had reviewed more than 400,000 pages of Toyota documents to determine whether the scope of the company’s recalls for pedal entrapment was sufficient.
“As a result of the agency’s review, (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) asked Toyota to recall these additional vehicles, and now that the company has done so, our investigation is closed,” said NHTSA administrator David Strickland.
Toyota has now recalled more than 14 million vehicles globally to fix gas pedals and other safety problems since 2009. U.S. regulators said earlier this month that electronic flaws were not to blame for reports of sudden, unintended acceleration. The company paid the U.S. government a record $48.8 million in fines for its handling of three recalls.
The world’s No. 1 auto company said more than half of the vehicles under recall were being added to a massive 2009 recall that fixed gas pedals getting trapped in the floor mat.
The Japanese automaker said it would add three models to the 2009 pedal entrapment recall: about 600,000 4Runner SUVs from the 2003-2009 model years; 761,000 RAV4 compact SUVs from the 2006-2010 model years; and 17,000 Lexus LX 570s from the 2008-2011 model years.
The recall also includes 372,000 RX 330, RX 350 and RX 400H vehicles from the 2004 through early 2007 model years and 397,000 2004-2006 Toyota Highlander SUVs and hybrid versions to replace floor carpet covering and retention clips on the driver’s side that could interfere with the accelerator pedal arm.
Toyota also recalled 20,000 2006 through early 2007 GS 300 and GS 350 all-wheel drive vehicles to change the shape of a plastic pad embedded in the driver’s side floor carpet that could cause pedal interference.
Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said the company was unaware of any accidents or injuries related to the new recalls.
The recall does not cover the vehicle that Koua Fong Lee was driving in 2006 when his vehicle careened into a number of cars idling at a stop light in St. Paul. Three people were killed in the crash.
Lee maintained that he did everything he could to stop as his 1996 Camry sped up the freeway exit ramp. He was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison, but the case was reopened in the wake of reports surfaced about sudden acceleration problems in certain Toyota models.
In 2010, defense investigators presented new evidence and testimony backing up Lee’s story, persuading a judge to vacate his conviction and grant him a new trial.
Prosecutors decided to drop the case.
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