Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. announced a massive recall on Wednesday to fix malfunctioning power window switches, saying it will pull back 7.43 million vehicles worldwide in the biggest single recall since 1996, performed by Ford Motor Co.
The move comes as Japan's biggest auto maker tries to rebuild trust after a series of recalls between 2009 and 2011 in which it pulled back around 10 million vehicles, and as it struggles with plummeting Chinese sales as a result of a Sino-Japanese territorial dispute.
The recall primarily affects cars in the United States, China and Europe. Toyota's main rivals in the U.S. include Ford and General Motors Co., while in China they include Volkswagen AG, Hyundai Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., and in Europe Hyundai and Nissan.
The recall will include some Yaris and Corolla models on which the power window switches can be repaired in about 40 minutes, the company said.
"The process to repair (the power window switch) is not an extensive one," spokeswoman Monika Saito said, adding that it would involve putting heat-resistant lubricant on the switches, or exchanging them.
Toyota declined to disclose how much the recall would cost, or how it might affect its earnings.
The recall will include 2.47 million vehicles in the United States, as well as 1.40 million vehicles in China and 1.39 million vehicles in Europe.
In Japan, Toyota is recalling about 459,300 vehicles, including the Vitz, produced between 2006 and 2008.
The firm is also recalling 650,000 vehicles in Australia and Asia, 490,000 vehicles in the Near and Middle East, 240,000 vehicles in Canada and 330,000 vehicles elsewhere, said Shino Yamada, another spokeswoman for Toyota.
The vehicles recalled outside Japan include certain models of the Yaris, Vios, Corolla, Matrix, Auris, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, Tundra, Sequoia, xB and xD produced between 2005 and 2010.
The first time the problem was reported was in September 2008 in the United States, Ms. Saito said.
No accidents, injuries or deaths have been reported as a result of the problem, though there is a possibility that the malfunctioning switches could emit smoke, she said.
The move comes a day after Toyota reported that its sales fell 48.9 per cent year-on-year in China in September. Japanese car brands have suffered as a result of an outbreak of anti-Japan sentiment in China in response to a territorial dispute between the two countries.
In 1996, Ford pulled back 8 million vehicles to replace defective ignition switches that could have caused engine fires.
Shares in Toyota ended down 1.90 per cent, while the broader Nikkei index fell 1.98 per cent.