Toyota Motor (TM) has suspended sales of its SUV – 2010 Lexus GX 460 – after Consumer Reports magazine revealed that the car bears risks of overturning. The magazine found that the stability control of GX 460 takes too long to respond when the driver approaches a turn unusually fast. This causes the rear of the vehicle to slide outward, which could result in a fatal overturn.
Consumer Reports is a popular magazine cautioning many car buyers about defects before choosing a new car or truck. In January, it nixed its “Recommended” rating on 8 vehicles recalled by the automaker due to faulty gas pedals. It has now imposed a “Don’t Buy” rating on GX 460.
Toyota sold about 6,000 GX 460s since the vehicle went on sale in December last year. About 1,600 of the SUVs are now with the dealers. Due to the report, the automaker has asked dealers to temporarily suspend its sales until it conducts its own tests on the vehicle.
The recent string of recalls has tarnished the reputation of the automaker. So far, the automaker has recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles from around the world related to problems such as faulty accelerator gas pedals, slipping floor mats and defective braking systems. The recall included popular models such as the 2010 Prius hybrid and Toyota Camry.
Toyota has been slapped with dozens of lawsuits due to the recall. The value of claims under the lawsuits is estimated to reach about $4 billion, reflecting an average loss of $600 per vehicle.
To make matters worse, the U.S. government has imposed the highest-ever fine of $16.4 million on Toyota, accusing it of deliberate delay in recalling the vehicles by hiding its defects even though manufacturers are legally obligated to notify the U.S. safety regulators within 5 business days if they come to know of a safety defect.
To regain consumer confidence, Toyota has been offering big promotions, including cheap leases, zero-percent financing for 5 years and free maintenance for 2 years for return customers on most of its line-up. In March, the automaker’s sales shot up 41% to 186,863 vehicles, fueled by huge consumer response to the incentives.
The automaker saw strong sales of even its recalled models, Corolla, Camry and RAV4. Sales of RAV4 more than doubled, while that of Corolla rose 33% and Camry jumped 41%. The automaker grabbed a market share of 17.5% during the month, up from 15.5% in the year-ago month.