Back in the 1970s, the Ford Pinto was the focus of many headlines due to a fuel tank issue which caused excessive amounts of gasoline to leak during a rear-end collision. Now, three decades later, Lexus is having a similar problem with its HS250h hybrid, and has filed a report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a voluntary recall of these vehicles. Up to 17,000 of the luxury hybrids are affected.
In the case of the HS, excessive fuel leakage occurred during rear-end collisions at speeds of 50 miles per hour. We don't need to remind you about the dangers of excessive fuel spillage, but let's just say that the end result can be very, very bad.
As of this writing, Lexus has not advised NHTSA about what steps will be taken to fix the defective HS models. Make the jump for the full details.
TORRANCE, Calif., June 25, 2010 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today filed a Noncompliance Information Report (NCIR) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), informing the agency of the company's intent to conduct a voluntary safety recall of potentially 17,000 2010 model year Lexus HS 250h vehicles to address a compliance issue with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 301.
As part of its annual compliance testing program, the NHTSA recently conducted a test of the 2010 model year HS 250h. The test involved striking the vehicle with a deformable barrier from the rear at approximately 50 mph. The vehicle is struck by a moving deformable barrier with a 70 percent overlap. As part of the test, the vehicle was then rotated on its longitudinal axis incrementally to each successive increment of 90 degrees. During the rotation, the vehicle exhibited fuel spillage that exceeded the requirement in the standard.
During vehicle development, Lexus tested the HS 250h using the same protocol and found the vehicles to comply fully with the FMVSS 301. Lexus is currently working to identify the reason for the different test results and the cause of this noncompliance.
"Even though our own testing of the Lexus HS 250h shows full compliance with federal fuel system integrity standards, we are working intensely to duplicate the noncompliance issue that the NHTSA identified and to determine the reason behind the different test results," said Steve St. Angelo, Toyota chief quality officer for North America.
At the present time, Lexus has not identified a remedy to address this issue, but it is working hard to do so promptly and will notify owners as soon as one is developed. Until then, as required by federal law, dealers will not deliver any new vehicles in their inventory that are covered by this NCIR until remedied.
Detailed information about this recall is available through Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25 LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987 or at www.lexus.com/recall.