Apr 14, 2010

Toyota halts Lexus SUV sales


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Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) has suspended sales of a new Lexus SUV in the U.S. market to investigate the risk for rollover accidents in the latest blow to the reputation of the world's largest automaker.

Toyota took the unusual action of stopping sales of the 2010 Lexus GX 460 after Consumer Reports urged shoppers not to buy the sport utility vehicle, calling it a "safety risk" because of a potential handling problem in certain turns.

Toyota, which also sells the Lexus GX in the Middle East, Oceania and Russia, said no decision has been made on whether sales would be suspended in those markets as well.

Although the luxury SUV is a low-volume model for Toyota, the potential problem with its stability control adds to the toll from a safety crisis that has cost Toyota billions of dollars in lost sales and forced it to resort to cut-rate pricing.

Shares of Toyota, which have are up 13 percent since early February, opened lower but were up less than half a percent in morning trade in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The stock remains down 11 percent from late January when the first in a series of large recalls was announced.


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