Problems of unintended acceleration that have haunted Toyota in several markets had a relatively light effect in Brazil though there was a short ban on Corolla sedan sales in one state. There were some incidents with no casulaties reported, specifically involving the Altis four-door built in Indaiatuba, State of São Paulo.
A newspaper in neighbouring state’s Estado de Minas newspaper reported some cases of jammed, accelerator pedals. The automaker said pedals used for Brazilian production came from Japan’s Denso and were not the CTS units that generated the US and Europe recalls.
In a rather sluggish response Japanese brand – under pressure – investigated the cases and concluded that faulty fastenings or the use of non genuine floor mats were to blame.
The the state of Minas Gerais’ agency for consumer protection kicked in and the issue ended up in an investigation committee of the state House of Representatives.
Toyota then made one more mistake: no official was sent to the first hearing. For the second one, no high-ranked official showed up, leaving explanations to medium-level technicians.
The result was a prosecutor demanding a state sales halt for the Corolla until the automaker provided a fix. A judge agreed to the request and sales in Minas Gerais state, the country’s second biggest market, were halted.
Even without futher denunciations in most of the 27 states (Brasília included), the federal agency put pressure on Toyota which , at last, agreed on a two-phase ‘call-in’: one to check floor mat attachments and another, as of last week, to supply a new mat with a warning label about correct use and an instruction leaflet.
Toyota failed to lift the judicial sales block on its first attempt, succeeding only after announcing the national “call-in” under an agreement with the federal agency.
The automaker has never used the word ‘recall’ for the floor mats operation and could have avoided all this trouble by being more agile and assertive.
Toyota estimated it did not sell 153 Corollas in Minas Gerais during the 15 days of the judicial measure but redirected the cars to other states.