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No refunds for Toyota drivers in throttle risk

Owners of Toyota cars suspected of having faulty accelerator pedals will have to take their vehicle to the nearest Toyota centre for repairs rather than be given a refund, the company said yesterday.

The carmaker, which caused panic last week when it announced a recall of eight of its models, said that it had been inundated with calls from its customers both here and in Britain.

Certain types of Aygo, Yaris, Avensis and Corolla are affected by the fault, which causes sudden and unexpected acceleration that leaves the driver unable to stop the car in time.

It emerged that the Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1, which are built at the same plant in the Czech Republic and use the same parts as the Toyota Aygo, could be similarly affected.



Frustration

Toyota said yesterday that it would tell the owners of affected vehicles this week that they could not expect refunds.

A spokesman said that the policy was in "in line with industry recall procedures", adding that the recall arrangements were still being finalised.

Consumer organisations said that Toyota appeared to be handling the recall well.

But Toyota drivers in Britain were yesterday venting their frustration with the company in online forums. One woman wrote that her son crashed a Yaris while working for Toyota. "My son claimed then that the vehicle had a fault but he was suspended immediately pending further investigations," she said.

"The final report, after weeks of waiting, was that there was no fault to be found and my son was given a straight written warning which 'blackened' his name. He was adamant then, and now, that there was a fault on the pedal sticking, but Toyota didn't want to listen."

The AA said: "Some manufacturers have dragged their heels in similar circumstances in the past. But Toyota has done the right thing in trying to put customers' minds at rest and for that it should be applauded."

The company said that its engineers were working around the clock to fix the fault. Toyota said that it had received ten times the number of calls that it would usually take.

It added that it would not warn drivers against using their vehicles because it considered the cars safe to drive, as the fault occurred only in "rare instances".

A Toyota spokesman said that there had been no reports of accidents in Europe as a result of the fault. However, there were 26 reports of faults with cars in Britain. In one incident an elderly driver was caught out by the fault.

"I shot out forward. I should have stopped driving right then but I didn't. The car kept racing every time I touched the accelerator. As I came round a turn, the car lurched forward like a Formula One vehicle," he said.

"I saw a white van coming towards me. I was going too fast; we were heading for a head-on collision. I managed to steer out of the way and straight into a parked car."

Toyota said that, once it had established the individual vehicles that had the fault, it would trace the owners via the UK's DVLA database.

The safety problems are expected to reduce future sales.

hnews@herald.ie


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