Toyota to recall 681,500 vehicles over safety concerns
Toyota has recalled 681,500 vehicles in the US dealing a blow to its efforts to rebuild its image after a number of safety issues in recent years.
It is recalling 70,500 Camry and 116,000 Venza cars to fix silicone grease leaks that may cause starting problems.
Another 495,000 Tacoma vehicles need repairs to faulty steering wheels that may deactivate the driver's air bag.
Toyota is the world's third-largest carmaker.
"Toyota is currently obtaining the necessary replacement parts. Once the replacement parts are available, we will notify owners," the firm said in a statement.'Road bump'
Toyota has made much of its recovery from last year's natural disasters, and executives here at the Geneva motor show have been making bold statements about how quickly the company will grow in the months and years ahead.
But with yet another mass recall underway - just over two years after the last one - there are real concerns that the carmaker's reputation for quality and safety could yet again suffer, with consumers deserting as a result.
Toyota has already lost its title as the world's biggest carmaker, and with more quality issues being discovered the company is finding it increasingly hard to convince consumers and investors that it is the best.
Despite this, Toyota remains the world's most valuable car company, when measured by market capitalisation. But even this lead could be at risk, as the gap between Toyota and the second-biggest player, Europe's largest carmaker Volkswagen, has narrowed dramatically in recent months.
The recall comes at a time when Toyota is not just seeking to rebuild its brand image but also trying to win back its market share that it lost to competitors after last year's earthquake and tsunami.
Its image took a beating after the carmaker, once known for its quality and safety controls, recalled almost 12 million vehicles over the past two-and-a-half years for various reasons.
There were 14 separate recalls in 2010 alone.
Analysts said while the latest announcement will hurt the company, it will not derail its recovery process.
"It looks bad for Toyota especially after the recall problems it has had in the past," Hans Greimel of Automotive News told the BBC.
"But it is a road bump in their path to recovery and not a major road block."
Toyota's sales numbers were dented after it had to curb or suspend production last year, not just at its Japanese plants but also at its North American facilities, due to a shortage of parts after the twin natural disasters.
However, the carmaker has returned to normal production and seen a revival in its sales in the US, one of its biggest markets.
According to the latest data, its sales in the US increased by 12% in February, from a year earlier. Analysts said the upward trend was likely to continue in the coming months despite the latest recall.
"We will see a lot of new products coming out this year and next year. That will do a lot to invigorate the brand," said Mr Greimel.