WASHINGTON — Toyota Motor Corp. recalled 2.17 million vehicles in the United States on Thursday to address accelerator pedals that could become entrapped in floor mats or jammed in driver's side carpeting, prompting federal regulators to close its investigation into the embattled automaker.
The Transportation Department said it reviewed more than 400,000 pages of Toyota documents to determine whether the scope of the company's recalls for pedal entrapment was sufficient.
"As a result of the agency's review, (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) asked Toyota to recall these additional vehicles, and now that the company has done so, our investigation is closed," said NHTSA administrator David Strickland.
Toyota has now recalled more than 14 million vehicles globally to fix gas pedals and other safety problems since 2009. The company has received intense scrutiny from the government since August 2009, when four people were killed in a high-speed crash involving a Lexus near San Diego.
U.S. regulators largely cleared the company earlier this month, saying that electronic flaws were not to blame for reports of sudden acceleration that led to hundreds of complaints. Transportation officials tied the problems to mechanical defects dealt with in recalls and "pedal misapplication," in which the driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes. The company has, however, paid the U.S. government a record $48.8 million in fines for its handling of three recalls.
The world's No. 1 automaker has tried to move beyond the recalls, vowing to heed customer complaints and upgrade its safety technology. The company has installed on new vehicles brake override systems which automatically cut the throttle when the brake and gas pedals are applied simultaneously, and created engineering teams to examine vehicles that are the subject of consumer complaints.
In its latest safety action, Toyota said more than half of the vehicles under recall were being added to a 2009 recall that fixed gas pedals getting trapped in the floor mat.
The Japanese automaker said it would add three models to the 2009 pedal entrapment recall: about 600,000 4Runner SUVs from the 2003-2009 model years; 761,000 RAV4 compact SUVs from the 2006-2010 model years; and 17,000 Lexus LX 570s from the 2008-2011 model years.