US: Supplier makes new pedal assembly after Toyota recall
CTS, a US$500m Indiana-based component company, said that it is starting to ship replacement throttle pedals and assemblies for Toyota in the wake of the sudden-deceleration reports that have led to a massive recall of some of Toyota's best-selling models.
The Wall Street Journal reported that no details have been given of how the pedal assembly has been modified nor how many would be shipped to Toyota. CTS said on its website that the company "has been actively working with Toyota for a while to develop a new pedal to meet tougher specifications from Toyota. The newly designed pedal is now tested and parts are beginning to ship to some Toyota factories."
Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America issued a statement late on Wednesday which said that it has been working closely with CTS "on a revised design that effectively remedies the problem associated with accelerator pedals. Pedals featuring the revised design are now in full production at CTS to support Toyota's needs. Meanwhile, we are also working with them to test effective modifications to existing pedals in the field that will be rolled out as quickly as possible.
"We commend CTS for working diligently and collaboratively to find a solution to the potential problem and in developing a new design," said Chris Nielsen, TEMA's Vice President of Purchasing. "CTS is a long-term and valued supplier to us."
A spokesman for CTS told the WSJ that Toyota has only told it of eight vehicles in which gas pedals became stuck. Those incidents, in which sticky accelerator pedals failed to decelerate properly, didn't lead to any accidents, injuries or fatalities, according to CTS which also makes parts for Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
"Toyota has not made us aware and we have no knowledge" of problems with the pedal leading to accidents, said Mitch Walorski, CTS's director of investor relations. He said the sticky-pedal phenomenon--which he described as "slow-return" characteristics--was "rare."
The reports "came from the warranty returns; people bringing cars into dealers," he added.
Safety Research and Strategies, a Massachusetts-based safety research firm, has said it has found 2,274 incidents of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles causing 275 crashes and at least 18 fatalities since 1999. Until recently, Toyota had said it believed the problem mainly stemmed from floor mats getting jammed against the accelerator pedal, but later said its slowly responding accelerator itself could be a factor as well.
Some observers noted that Toyota could become a partial victim of its own success in using common parts among many types of cars, making it more vulnerable if those parts turn out to be faulty.
"It's not inconceivable that their belt-tightening has had an effect on this," said Chris Richter, autos analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. "And because global car makers are having more models built on a single platform, any problem with one car will be in a lot of models."