CHICAGO Feb 6 Toyota Motor Corp's U.S.
head said on Thursday that a problem with heated seats that has
forced the company to halt sales of several vehicle models in
the United States would weigh on the automaker's February sales
but he predicted the negative effect would be minor.
Talking to reporters at the Chicago Auto Show, Bob Carter,
the head of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc, said the sales halt -
which was announced late last month and remains in place -
affected about 30,000 vehicles on dealer lots and would have a
"very minor impact" on the company's February U.S. sales.
Carter did not rule out the possibility that the sales stop
could be escalated to a recall, saying the issue was in the
hands of the U.S. Department of Transportation's National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The stop-sale order, which includes some top-selling Camry
and Corolla models, was triggered after Toyota learned that some
of the fabrics used in the heated seats were not as flame
resistant as required by law.
"It's a small percent of our current inventories," Carter
said. "Those cars will start being repaired this week and it
will take us a couple of weeks to get all the parts available."
Asked if he knew how many of the affected vehicles were in
customer hands, Carter said: "I don't know that right now."
Carter said that Toyota, which began exporting U.S.-made
vehicles in 1988 and sent 130,000 of those vehicles overseas
last year, expected to export a similar number of U.S.-made
vehicles in 2014.