Toyota to recall nearly 630,000 minivans in Japan due to fuel tank defect

Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will recall 628,239 minivans in Japan due to an installation flaw that could lead to cracks in the fuel tank.

Subject to the recall are the Noah and Voxy models manufactured between Nov. 7, 2001 and May 31, 2007, the Japanese automaker said in a filing to the transport ministry.

The problem involves the area around a bolt on the rear, left hand side of the fuel tank, Toyota said. High-stress driving conditions, such as on extremely curvy roads, could lead to cracks, which may then result in leaks in some cases, it said.

Sixteen such defects have been reported. None has led to accident or injury, Toyota said.

The company has not released how much the recall will cost, spokeswoman Kayo Doi said.

Toyota’s latest recall comes as the company grapples with maintaining its reputation for quality while continuing to expand globally.

Last year Toyota, maker of the Prius gas-electric hybrids, overtook General Motors Corp. as the world’s top automaker by global production. It made a record 9,497,754 vehicles worldwide in 2007, up 5.3 percent from the previous year.

But since 2006 President Katsuaki Watanabe has apologized repeatedly at news conferences for a rising number of recalls and quality concerns. In a speech last month at the Japan National Press Club, he acknowledged that the company’s rapid global growth was partly behind the problems.

Toyota recalled 809,394 vehicles last year in Japan, Doi said.

The automaker also said it would recall 2,623 Noah and Voxy minivans for a computer program problem.


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