Most of the vehicles Toyota has recalled as a result of the automakers issues with unintended acceleration span only the past few years, but there have been many reports that Toyota's unwanted thrust issues may have gone back to 2004 or even earlier. Automotive News reports that the automaker appears to have had similar issues as far back as 1999, at least in the UK. According to the trade publication, Toyota recalled 10,919 Lexus IS200 models built between March 1999 and July 2000 for a floor mat issue that could lead to sudden acceleration. Now federal investigators are wondering why Toyota didn't spread their recall over to the U.S.
Information about the UK recall was mentioned yesterday during congressional hearings with the Japanese automaker, and Toyota U.S.A. President Jim Lentz replied to questioning about the earlier floor mat issue saying "we didn't do a very good job of sharing information across the globe." Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey (D) contends that instead of tackling the issue in the states, Toyota instead "deployed lawyers and lobbyists and convinced the Department of Transportation that this was a small floor mat issue and not something more serious."
While news of a much earlier recall in the UK for the same issue that has allegedly lead to 19 or more deaths in the U.S. has some lawmakers up in arms, Toyota insists that the floor mats from the IS200 recall were made in England and the design was not used here in the States. If the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that Toyota failed to initiate a recall after it learned of a defect, the company could face a fine of $16.4 million. Toyota has until March 18 to provide "a chronology of all events that occurred in foreign countries with regard to interference between the accelerator pedal and the driver's side floor mat in vehicles that are identical or substantially similar to any of the recalled U.S. vehicles."
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[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]