180,000 UK Toyota owners must wait for safety fix

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Seven models are affected, with the world's biggest maker warning the accelerator may become stuck

The world's biggest car maker said 180,865 vehicles might be affected by the problem in Britain, and it was writing to the owners to arrange repairs.

Toyota has warned that accelerator pedals on seven models may get stuck, recalling 1.8 million cars across Europe and millions more in the US and Japan.

In the UK, the seven models are affected - the iQ, Aygo, Yaris, Auris, Corolla, Avensis and Verso.

Toyota said that anyone in Britain who had suffered a problem with their accelerator pedal should contact the company and warned people not to get the problem fixed independently.

The first batches of parts to make the repair will arrive in the UK next week, with the first repairs due to take place on February 10.

Toyota said that it had stopped delivering new vehicles of the seven affected models to British customers.

They will not be released until they have been fitted with a new part - a process that is estimated will take just 30 minutes to fix.

A Toyota UK spokesman told The Times: "If an affected car is ready to be delivered it will stay put at the dealer so that the modified part can be installed.

"This is to prevent inconvenience to customers having to come back at a later date to get the part fitted."

In another potential customer issue for the firm, there have also been a number of complaints in the US and Japan about brake problems with Toyota's ground-breaking Prius hybrid.

The car giant has been facing growing criticism that it has not done enough to alert customers about the mechanical issues.

The firm said the first reports about the accelerator problem came in the US in October and the UK in November.

Spokesman Scott Brownlee said the recall had been done "as quickly as possible" after that.

He told the BBC: "We had to investigate to identify the cause of the problem to see if there was a common issue and identify how we could fix it."

US transportation secretary Ray LaHood has said that government officials had to alert Toyota to the seriousness of the safety issues that eventually led to the recalls.

"They should have taken it seriously from the very beginning when we first started discussing it with them," he said. "Maybe they were a little safety deaf."

Yesterday Miguel Fonseca, managing director of Toyota GB, issued a statement about the problem.

He said: "The safety of our customers is our top priority.

"We appreciate their concerns and are doing everything we can to deliver a speedy and thorough solution to the issue with the minimum inconvenience."

Toyota shares in the US dropped 6 per cent yesterday, continuing the falls of recent days.

But today Toyota reported pre-tax profits of £1.56 billion for the last three months of 2009.

That compares to a pre-tax loss of £1.95 billion for the same period the year before.

The group also said it expected to sell 7.18 million vehicles worldwide during the year to March 31, 2010. This is a slight increase from its previous annual sales estimate of 7.03 million units made last November.

Mr Brownlee, Toyota UK'S spokesman, said the firm had found no problems with the Prius brakes in the UK.



The number of complaints made in the US and Japan about braking on the flagship hybrid model now stands at about 180.



Mr Brownlee told the BBC: "We have checked this in the UK.



"Any reports of this issue have been checked...and there are no problems with the brakes of Prius in the UK."



He urged anyone with concerns about the accelerator pedal safety of their Toyota model should call the firm's UK helpline number on 0800 138 8744.



"We are literally working around the clock globally to identify the problem, produce the solution and get it implemented as quickly as possible," he added.

Toyota's recalled models

Here are the models being recalled by Toyota.

AYGO (February 2005 - August 2009, only MMT version is affected)

iQ (November 2008 - November 2009)

Yaris (November 2005 - September 2009)

Auris (October 2006 - 5 January 2010)

Corolla (October 2006 - December 2009)

Verso (February 2009 - 5 January 2010)

Avensis (November 2008 - December 2009)

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