Toyota has announced that they will halt North American production of eight models, including the top-selling Corolla, until an issue related to the accelerator is resolved.  The company also expanded a recall related to a sticking gas pedal that has been linked to 20 deaths and 2,000 complaints, according to safety experts.

Although the problem has been reported in Europe, the recall and stop-sale order only affects North America.

In addition to the Corolla, the world's largest automaker is freezing sales and assembly of the Avalon, Camry, Highlander, Matrix, RAV4, Sequoia, and Tundra.  56% of Toyota's December U.S. sales came from one of those eight models.  The company is also closing seven factories in North America for at least a week while the situation is investigated internally.

Toyota first linked the sudden acceleration problem to faulty floor mats, which led to the recall of 2.5 million vehicles.  This week's announcement expands the recall to cover 4.8 million vehicles sold since 2005.  The complaints were first reported to Toyota by Tundra owners in 2007.

Despite one Toyota PR flack saying that the problem is rare, Toyota U.S. sales chief Bob Carter said, "This action is necessary until a remedy is finalized."  The uncontrolled acceleration is believed to be caused by a part in the accelerator that swells over time in humid conditions, but until recently the company had disregarded the problem as a "drivability issue unrelated to safety."

"We're making every effort to address this situation for our customers as quickly as possible," Carter said.

Toyota models recalled include:

  • 2005-2010 Avalon
  • some 2007-2010 Camrys
  • 2009-2010 Corolla
  • 2010 Highlander
  • 2009-2010 Matrix
  • 2009-2010 RAV4
  • 2008-2010 Sequoia
  • 2007-2010 Tundra
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