WASHINGTON — Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday that its dealers should get parts to fix a sticky gas pedal problem by the end of this week as the automaker apologized to customers and tried to bring an end to a recall that has affected 4.2 million vehicles worldwide.
The company said in a statement that it has begun shipping parts and is training dealers on the repairs. Some dealers will stay open around the clock to fix the 2.3 million cars and trucks affected by the recall in the U.S.
Technical bulletins on how to install the new parts should arrive at dealers by midweek, the company told dealers in an e-mail.
"We expect to have the parts Thursday," said Brandon Steven, managing partner of Eddy's Toyota on east Kellogg. "The second we get the parts, we'll begin installing them."
Steven said he's got six technicians who "are going to work on an assembly line" installing them.
The automaker also said Monday that it would suspend production of eight U.S. models affected by the recall this week, with factories restarting Monday.
Toyota suspended sales of the models last week, but spokesman Mike Michels said dealers can begin selling the cars as soon as they are fixed. However, cars already on the road will be the dealers' first priority, he said in an e-mail.
Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales, said in the statement that nothing is more important than customer safety.
In a video clip released by the automaker, Lentz said he wanted to "sincerely apologize to Toyota owners. I know that our recalls have caused many of you concern, and for that I am truly sorry."
"Toyota has always prided itself on building high-quality, durable cars that customers can depend on, and I know that we've let you down," Lentz said.
Lentz, in an interview on NBC's "Today," said the automaker was "confident that we have the fix" for the gas pedal system.
Toyota recalled the vehicles on Jan. 21, determining that excess friction in the gas pedal assembly could in rare cases cause the pedals to stick.