WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Safety regulators are satisfied with a Toyota Motor Corp. plan for fixing a sudden acceleration problem that is part of a massive recall and unprecedented sales and production halt, a government official said on Saturday.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) engineers have reviewed Toyota’s proposal for preventing gas pedals in eight models from sticking and have raised no objections, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has yet to be publicly announced.
Toyota has issued a series of recent recalls covering 5.6 million vehicles in the United states due to sudden acceleration in some vehicles.
The problem has affected popular selling Toyota cars as well as its luxury Lexus models and is suspected of causing crashes that led to 19 fatalities over the past decade, government officials have said.
Another 1.8 million vehicles have been recalled in Europe and 75,000 in China.
Most of the models affected by the recall in the United States have been recalled because of gas pedals getting jammed on floor mats.
The fix, which was reviewed by NHTSA this week and is expected to be announced by Toyota within days, covers roughly 2.4 million vehicles equipped with gas pedals that may not spring back as designed.
The remedy being readied by Toyota and its accelerator supplier, CTS Corp, involves a shim, also called a spacer, that will be placed in the accelerator to keep it from sticking, sources have said.
NHTSA regulators are not required to approve the remedy but they can reject the approach if they consider it inadequate. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last week NHTSA, which is part of his agency, closely reviewed the proposal.
LaHood said he was satisfied with Toyota’s response to the matter, which has dented its reputation and prompted rivals, like government-owned General Motors Co., to try and lure its customers to their brands with incentives.
Separate congressional committees have scheduled hearings into the matter next month. LaHood, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and Toyota North American President Yoshimi Inaba are expected to testify.