Toyota Supplier 'Has Fix' For Faulty AcceleratorsBy Bill Visnic January 28, 2010
Elkhart, Indiana's CTS Corp., the supplier at the unfortunate nucleus of a massive recall involving eight Toyota Motor Corp. models and that also has forced Toyota to suspend production of new vehicles, reportedly has redesigned the component and is ready to begin production of the redesigned parts, according to a report from Reuters and confirmed by Toyota in a statement.
"We have the fix. It is a much more robust pedal that is meeting the tougher specifications from Toyota," CTS Chief Executive Vinod Khilnani said.
Not yet known, however, is if the redesigned accelerator pedal module also will be the remedy for the 2.3 million existing models affected by the recall.
But it appears Toyota and CTS are working toward a separate solution for the recalled vehicles: A call to Toyota was not yet returned as this was written, but a statement by the company said, "We are also working with (CTS) to test effective modifications to existing pedals in the field that will be rolled out as quickly as possible."
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said earlier today that Ford has been marginally drawn into the vortex, with Ford suspending production of a commercial model in China that uses accelerator-pedal modules supplied by CTS. Mullally said fewer than 2,000 vehicles had been produced that use CTS accelerator assemblies.
Although CTS makes accelerator-pedal assemblies for other automakers, none use the same component as Toyota, so there likely is scant potential for similar problems with the parts used by CTS's other OEM customers.
The affected Toyota models are: 2009-'10 RAV4; 2009-'10 Corolla; 2009-'10 Matrix; 2005-'10 Avalon; certain 2007-'10 Camrys; 2010 Highlander; 2007-'10 Tundra; and 2008-'10 Sequoia.
Although it appeared as if Toyota and CTS might begin to joust over responsibility for a situation that likely will cost Toyota hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more, the two companies are keeping the rhetoric civil, almost conciliatory.
CTS had stressed in recent days that the accelerator module was built to Toyota's specifications, a point Khilnani reportedly reiterated today: "We built the pedal to their specifications and Toyota has concurred with that," he said.
Toyota also took pains to publicly support its supplier, saying in its statement, "We commend CTS for working diligently and collaboratively to find a solution to the potential problem and in developing a new design," said Chris Nielsen, TEMA's vice president of purchasing. "CTS is a long-term and valued supplier to us."
Toyota said the revised design, one that apparently addresses the condensation accumulation in the pedal-return damping mechanism that causes the sticky pedal action, "effectively remedies the problem associated with accelerator pedals."
Back to Normal?
Toyota has yet to say when production of new vehicles with the redesigned accelerator module can resume, although one source told Auto Observer that if CTS already is producing the new parts, Toyota's vehicle assembly could resume in a matter of days -- unless the same part is earmarked to fix the recalled vehicles already in customers' hands.
It is not clear whether the new parts CTS is producing also will be suitable as the remedy for recalled models. If the new part also is suitable for retrofitting, Toyota might choose to prioritize supplies of the new parts for recalled vehicles in order to minimize the impact on existing customers. -- Bill Visnic, Senior Editor
Toyota Tundra photo courtesy Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.