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Auto blogThu, 16 May 2013 09:29:00 EST
A total of 22.6 million current and former Toyota owners have been sent notices that they may be eligible to receive compensation from the automaker for damages related to the unintended acceleration fiasco that has dominated headlines in 2009 and 2010. The total payout may be as high as $1.63 billion, according to The Detroit News.
Steve Berman, a lawyer for the owners, calls the potential deal "a landmark, if not a record, settlement in automobile defects class action litigation in the United States." Still, there's some debate about whether or not Toyota's proposed settlement is fair, as it includes $30 million for safety research and driver education programs - in other words, Toyota seems to be suggesting that drivers need more education on how to drive their correctly working and fully functional vehicles. For those keeping track, Toyota would also be paying lawyer fees of $200 million.
A US District Judge in California is scheduled to hold a so-called "fairness hearing" on June 14 that could decide the fate of this particular settlement. Further courtroom wrangling will be required to hash out any wrongful death suits levied against Toyota stemming from unintended acceleration claims, as those are not part of this class-action suit.
Toyota has announced plans to export the American-made Corolla south, to 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2014. The move follows statements made to The Wall Street Journal by Toyota's South American leader, Steve St. Angelo, that spoke to Toyota's resolve in emerging American markets.
Toyota is expected to begin export production in April, with initial production of 7,500 Corollas in the first year, courtesy of its Tupelo, Mississippi assembly plant. Years of unpredictable swings in the value of the Japanese yen has seen Toyota push its manufacturing operations in other countries, particularly the US, where its builds ten different models.
Scroll down to read the full press release from Toyota.
Toyota has announced a recall affecting approximately 615,000 Sienna minivans due to a possible rollaway risk. All of the vehicles in question are from the 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 model years.
In an official statement, the automaker states that the problem stems from the vehicle's shift lever assembly. "Because of the potential for damage to the shift lock solenoid installed in involved vehicles, there is a possibility that the shift lever could be moved out of the 'P' position without the driver depressing the brake pedal," Toyota said. Because of this fault, the affected Sienna models could roll away without warning, increasing the risk for a crash.
Owners will be notified via first class mail, and the affected Sienna models can be taken to Toyota dealerships to have the shift lock solenoid replaced with a new one. Have a look below for the automaker's official release.