Toyota Motor Corp. has agreed to guarantee for New York owners of recalled vehicles that it will pick up cars and trucks at their homes, pay for out-of-pocket transportation costs and offer drivers free rental cars during repairs.
The deal — costs weren't specified — represents the first formal concession reached between the world's largest automaker and attorneys general around the country. The agreement with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo doesn't preclude Cuomo's office from continuing its investigation into Toyota's recall.
Cuomo announced Wednesday that Toyota and Lexus dealers will offer services such as at-home pickup and return of recalled vehicles, free rental cars during repairs and reimbursement for the cost of transportation. The services will be tailored to the needs of each customer.
"Everyone at Toyota is focused on making the recent recalls as simple and trouble-free as possible for our customers," said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motors Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Cuomo's investigation into the recall is continuing though the official would not say what specifically the attorney general is looking at. The recall affects 500,000 vehicles in New York.
"It is unacceptable that New York consumers should face additional burdens when dealing with a safety problem that is Toyota's responsibility," Cuomo said in a statement. "New Yorkers who own recalled vehicles understandably may be reluctant to drive their cars and assume the risk of harm to themselves and others on the road."
Toyota and its Lexus subsidiary will reimburse local dealers for the cost of providing the accommodations.
The services will include pickup and return of the vehicle, driving the customer to the dealership or his or her work place, and rental and loaner cars or taxis during the time the customer is "unable or unwilling to use his or her car," according to Cuomo's statement.
Cuomo also launched a Web site, http://www.NYToyotaHelp.com, for more information.
Toyota has recalled some 8.5 million vehicles worldwide — more than 6 million in the United States — since last fall because of unintended acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius hybrid. It is also investigating steering concerns in Corollas. People with Toyotas have complained of their vehicles speeding out of control despite efforts to slow down, sometimes resulting in deadly crashes. The government has received complaints of 34 deaths linked to sudden acceleration of Toyotas since 2000.
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