While there is no formal NHTSA recall as yet, Toyota last week stopped sales and delivery of about 36,000 vehicles already in dealerships. The affected models include 2013 and 2014 Tundra, Avalon, Sienna and some Camry and Corolla models.
The problem, detected by NHTSA’s Korean counterpart, is that material used in the seats was not flame retardant to the level required by US and many national standards. The vehicle manufacturer is trying to avoid a national recall by handling the problem in house, changing the heating component on the unsold vehicles and those currently being produced at assembly plants. (The Tundra plant is located in San Antonio and I would guess that the switch out will be done there.)
Toyota has petitioned for a ruling that the “noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety,” according to a company spokesman in a New York Times interview. No fires caused by this have been reported to the company, the article also notes.
Since 2009, Toyota has had numerous recalls but has still retained a strong position opposite its competition, particularly in automotive sectors. In January, the company reported that it sold 9.8 million passenger vehicles in the year just passed, an increase of about 2%. They have gone on record as saying they expect to become the first auto company in the world to sell 10-million vehicles in a single year.
While Toyota owners are in limbo regarding a potential recall, I suggest that — if you own a 2013 or 2014 model of any of the affected vehicles, follow updates in this column or with your Toyota dealer.