Toyota halts US sales of some models

Toyota Camry Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The order affects Toyota Camry one of the firm's best selling cars

The world's biggest carmaker, Toyota, has told dealers in the US to stop sales of some of its cars that are equipped with seat heaters.

The firm said that a portion of the seat fabric in the affected models could burn at a rate faster than allowed by US regulations.

The models affected by the move include the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra.

Toyota said no fires or injuries had been reported due to the issue.

The firm said that nearly 36,000 vehicles currently with dealers - about 13% of their inventory - would be affected by the decision.

However, that number does not include vehicles that may have already been sold or those in transit to the dealers.

Sales impact?

The move by Toyota comes at a time when parts of the US are facing record low temperatures.

Some analysts said that given the extreme winter conditions, demand for vehicles with heated seats was growing and the latest move may put Toyota at a disadvantage to its rivals.

"The timing of this issue, and its impact on Toyota's most popular models, couldn't be much worse," said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

However, he added that the firm wanted to address the issue quickly to avoid a big recall later on.

"Toyota officials appear confident there is no risk and as a result they feel any hit to the company's reputation would be short-lived and less costly than a full recall," said Mr Brauer.

The Japanese firm is trying to rebuild its reputation after a series of recalls in recent years due to a variety of reasons.

Just over the past two years, it has called back nearly 20 million vehicles globally.

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