Jan 30 Toyota Motor Corp has alerted
U.S. safety officials about seat material in several vehicles
that does not meet fire retardation standards, which could
result in a recall depending on what the safety agency decides.
The Japanese automaker said on Thursday it had stopped
selling several models in North America equipped with seat
heaters made since August 2012 after being alerted by South
Korean safety officials that material in the part did not meet
fire retardation standards also used in the United States. The
cars are built in United States and some are exported to Korea.
Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the company had informed
the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the
issue and would file an official report later on Thursday
outlining the non-compliance with the standard. He added that
Toyota did not feel a recall was necessary.
"We don't believe that it is a defect issue or a
safety-related issue because there has been no occurrence of any
problems out in the real world," Hanson said.
There have been no reports of accidents, fires or injuries
related to the issue in the affected vehicles in the United
States, Canada or Mexico, he said.
The NHTSA will make the final determination on whether a
recall is needed, and Hanson said he did not know the timeline
for that decision. Toyota does not know yet how many cars are
affected by the issue, he said.
NHTSA officials could not immediately be reached to comment.
Toyota dealers have been told to stop selling any of the
affected vehicles until the part can be replaced, Hanson said.
The automaker will handle requests by individual owners to
replace the part at no cost on a case-by-case basis.
Affected vehicles are the Camry sedan, Camry hybrid, Avalon
sedan, Avalon hybrid, Corolla subcompact, Sienna minivan and
Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks equipped with seat heaters that
were sold since August 2012, when the fabric supplier was
changed, he said.
Toyota found out about the issue when it was notified that
the seat heater did not pass a test conducted by the Korean
Automotive Test and Research Institute (KATRI), which uses the
same standard as NHTSA, Hanson said.
The Korean agency found that the material in the seat heater
does not meet standards that require it to retard a flame across
the material surface at a specified rate, he said. KATRI
notified Toyota of the failed compliance.