Ford claims No. 1 in Canadian sales
Toyota’s troubles helped Ford Motor Co. claim the top sales spot in Canada during February — while rival General Motors recalled 1.3 million vehicles.
GM recalled the compact vehicles Tuesday following an investigation by U.S. regulators into power steering issues with certain models dating back to 2009.
The news follows a series of quality-related recalls at GM’s larger competitor, Toyota Motor Corp., in recent months and comes on the day the automakers reported their February sales.
Toyota has recalled more than eight million of its vehicles since November 2009 because of problems relating to unintended acceleration. the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said Tuesday it has received a total of 43 complaints of fatal incidents allegedly due to unintended acceleration in Toyota’s vehicles dating back to 2000 — including 52 fatalities and 38 injuries.
But the federal agency noted that three quarters of those complaints have arisen since the recalls were issued and that, at this point, none of the allegation have been confirmed.
Meanwhile, Toyota said Tuesday it had appointed former U.S. transportation secretary Rodney Slater to lead an independent North American quality advisory panel to evaluate the electronic throttle system in its vehicles and make its findings public.
It has been a tough month for the Japanese automaker, which has come in for strong scrutiny in U.S. Congressional hearings.
For its part, Toyota Canada Inc. reported a strong sales growth result for February, albeit on very weak February 2009 sales for all automakers.
Toyota Canada said sales rose 25 per cent in Canada during the month, compared with last year, including a week of halted sales and production related to the recalls.
Toyota’s troubles have, however, helped Ford Motor Co. claim the top sales spot in Canada and North America during February.
Ford said its sales rose 51 per cent during the month of February compared with the previous corresponding period.
Chrysler Canada said its sales rose 17 per cent, while GM Canada said its sales rose 20.5 per cent year-over-year.
Year-to-date, Toyota’s sales have been up 4.9 per cent in Canada. Ford’s have jumped more than 29 per cent here, and both GM and Chrysler’s are up 11.6 per cent.
Meanwhile, GM maintains that the vehicles affected by the power-steering recall, which affects 256,583 vehicles in Canada, are safe to drive, but may require additional effort to turn at lower speeds.
The Detroit automaker said the recall affects certain models of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, G4, and Pursuits.
“After our in-depth investigation, we found that this is a condition that takes time to develop. It tends to occur in older models out of warranty,” said Jamie Hresko, GM vice-president of quality. “Recalling these vehicles is the right thing to do for our customers’ peace of mind.”
The recalls stem from an investigation triggered on Jan. 27 into the Cobalt and involving the U.S.
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which received nearly 1,200 customer complaints. Problems with power steering have allegedly contributed to 14 crashes and one injury.
Hresko said the defect meant that drivers had to put in a greater steering effort under 24 km/h.
“If the customer experiences loss of power-steering assist, it is important to note that the vehicle can still be safely controlled because the customer can still steer the vehicle,” he said.
When the condition occurs, a chime will sound and a “Power Steering” message will be displayed, Hresko said.
“While these vehicles are safe to drive because the drivers can still steer the vehicle, this measure is being taken out of concern for our customers,” GM Canada said in a statement.
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