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Toyota safety fault delays imports

Stability concerns lead Cambodia’s dealer to push back its 2010 order of Land Cruiser Prados

CAMBODIA’S sole Toyota dealer has delayed imports of Land Cruiser Prados until their safety can be assured, following a world-wide recall by the Japanese car manufacturer.

Phnom Penh-based TTHK Co Ltd, which exclusively imports the brand to the Kingdom from Japan, has put its 2010 order of the model on hold.

Toyota recalled 21,000 Land Cruiser Prado SUVs in left-hand drive countries Tuesday, after tests found problems with their Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) systems.

It also recalled 13,000 Lexus GX 460 sport-utility vehicles because the model can roll over in certain driving conditions. Heavy components, such as the fuel tank, are located on the left side.

In left-hand drive versions, the imbalance is exacerbated by the presence of the driver.

TTHK President Kong Nuon said Wednesday: “We have never imported Lexus GX 460, so we don’t care about it.

“But after we got confirmation statement [from Toyota head office], we delayed our importations of the Land Cruisers we had already ordered.”

He said that the ordered Prados are being kept in stock in Singapore, ready to go under repairs to fix their VSC systems.

Toyota Motor Corporation released a statement Tuesday that said: “As a remedy, Toyota will update the VSC program to enhance the effectiveness so that the risk of the vehicle sliding, even to the point that it is almost sideways, will be reduced.”

“We will wait for the system to be made safe then we will import for sale,” added Kong Nuon, who declined to state the number of Prados vehicles he had ordered.

The president said that no other Toyota models which have been sold in Cambodia are relevant to the recall.

Despite the global concerns about Toyota, which has been issued about 10 million recall notices in the past seven months, sales in Cambodia remain strong.

TTHK sales improved by 10 percent in quarter one, compared to the first quarter of 2009. Last year, according to Kong Nuon's estimate, TTHK sold 70 percent of all brand new cars in the country. This year, he plans to sell between 600 and 700 vehicles.

The company has imported SUVs such as the Fortuner, passenger cars like the Corolla, and commercial vehicles such as the Coaster in the past.

Toyota's latest recall has not affected stock price. In Japan Wednesday, Toyota ended 0.41 percent up.

The rise came two days after the automaker accepted a fine of more than $16 million for covering up accelerator pedal defects on some of its cars.

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