In a separate action from the recall of Toyotas for sticking accelerator pedals, Toyota decided on Wednesday to expand the model names and years in the recall. This is specific to the potential risk for floor mat entrapment of accelerator pedals. This increases the total vehicle population of 2.3 million by another 1,093,000 vehicles.
Those new models are:
2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe
This is in addition to the accelerator pedal recall (non-mat related) of the following Toyota Division vehicles:
Certain 2007-2010 Camry,
The supplier for the accelerator pedal in question is CTS Corporation of Elkhart, Ind. In a statement, CTS said their newly designed pedal has been tested and are in full production. The company is in the process of having the parts shipped to dealerships and factories, though those parts have not yet arrived.
Dealers are being instructed on how to "reshape" the accelerator pedal in the meantime. Customers that have their pedals reshaped can have a new pedal installed when they become available. In addition, Toyota will replace any Toyota all-weather floor mat in a subject vehicle with a newly designed mat, free of charge.
A fix is underway - yet as it cannot be acted upon, yet, fleets - rental, commercial, government - are in a precarious position from a liability, safety and public relations standpoint.
What some companies with commercial fleets are doing: Some companies are telling drivers if they feel uncomfortable driving an affected Toyota that the company will rent them a car as soon as possible. Some companies are telling their drivers to go to a Toyota dealership immediately to have a mechanic inspect the accelerator pedal.
Toyota dealers will be able to identify a pedal made by CTS. Pedals in question can also be matched to the first three VIN numbers of sold vehicles, so calling a dealer may be an option, but inspection is advised if possible.
What some leasing companies are doing: Some leasing companies are going through their databases and informing all customers with affected Toyotas of the problem. They are telling clients to take their vehicles to a Toyota dealer, and they are forwarding the link from Toyota that discusses the problem and what to do. If the Toyota dealer cannot accommodate the driver, insist on making an appointment.
Here is the link: http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/toyota/toyota-consumer-safety-advisory-102572.aspx.
Leasing companies are taking the approach to inform clients, while leaving the decision to ground a vehicle up to the client. One leasing company informed its sales reps to under no circumstances downplay the safety aspect of the problem with a client as "no big deal."
A Toyota rep has visited one leasing company and physically inspected accelerator pedals on 15 Camrys. The company was told those Camrys are not affected, according to the company.
What some rental companies are doing: Avis Budget, Hertz, Dollar Thrifty and Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, National, Alamo) officially announced on Wednesday the grounding of all recalled Toyotas from its North American fleets. These companies are also immediately suspending sales of the affected models.
Smaller rental companies are reporting customers coming to rental counters demanding to be switched out of Toyotas.
Some licensees have stopped renting affected Toyotas and are grounding them as they come in. Another is calling his customers and having them bring back their Toyotas as soon as possible. One licensee is looking to "fire sale" his Toyotas as soon as possible. Others are renting them last, but will continue to rent affected Toyotas out of financial necessity.
Err on the Side of Caution
Most companies - rental, commercial fleets and leasing - are taking the stance of erring on the side of caution. The mood is not one of panic. This from one car rental licensee: "I'm confident they'll address the situation and get the job done. The people on the fleet side of Toyota are great. I'm not panicking at all. We get excellent fleet support."