WASHINGTON (Feb. 25, 2010)—Toyota Motor Corp. said it recalled its Lexus IS 200 in the United Kingdom for floor mat entrapment almost 10 years ago without informing U.S. highway safety regulators.
“We didn't do a very good job of sharing information across the globe,” Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., conceded at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The recall occurred at least two years before the earliest record of unintended Toyota acceleration previously known to congressional investigators.
According to a 2000 report by United Kingdom Vehicle & Operator Services Agency, a unit of the Department for Transport, “There is a possibility that the driver's side carpet mat may rotate around the central fixing and interfere with the operation of the accelerator pedal.”
But Toyota said the United Kingdom recall involved floor mats that were not available in the U.S.
Brian Lyons, a U.S. spokesman for Toyota, confirmed that the recall took place in 2000 and said the auto maker didn't notify U.S. authorities at the time because it wasn't required to under federal law.
The development follows last week's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration request for Toyota to show when and how it learned of defects that have prompted three recalls of 6 million vehicles in the U.S. for unintended acceleration.
Toyota could face a fine of up to $16.4 million if it failed to meet requirements for initiating a recall promptly after safety defects were discovered, according to NHTSA.
Toyota has a March 18 deadline to provide the information.