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Australia's Corolla safe, says Toyota

Shame file: Late-model Corollas in the US have experienced steering trouble.

World's top-selling small car won't be recalled in Australia, says Toyota

12 Feb 2010

AUSTRALIA’S most popular small car will not become the latest model to be embroiled in Toyota Motor Corporation’s widening global recall crisis, says its Australian subsidiary.

Responding to reports that the Japanese brand's Corolla, the world's most popular car, could be recalled globally following claimed steering problems in the US, Toyota Australia has advised its Corolla will not be affected.

"TMC has advised that the electric power-steering system used in Corolla models sold in Australia is different from that used for models sold in the United States," Toyota spokesman Mike Breen told GoAuto.

According to Automotive News in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering an official investigation into alleged steering-related problems with 2009 and 2010 versions of Toyota’s Corolla.

This week’s embarrassing recall of the Japanese giant’s iconic Prius hybrid following brake feel problems is so far the only worldwide safety debacle to affect Toyota owners in Australia, following the recall of some 8.1 million vehicles globally by the world’s largest car-maker.

Neither the recall to fix faulty floor mats in millions of US vehicles, nor the subsequent global recall of millions more (including the Corolla) to replace sticking accelerator pedals in the US, Europe and China, includes Australia.

But the fact that Australia's Japanese-built Corolla – more than 39,000 examples of which were sold here last year alone – is closely related to models sold worldwide, including in the US, had led to concerns that local Corollas would be involved if an NHTSA inquest leads to a global recall.

Automotive News quoted NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana as saying the safety agency was looking into US complaints, now numbering 83 since April 2008, related to the Corolla’s steering – 76 of which claim the vehicle unexpectedly veers to the left or right at about 65km/h.

According to AN, complainants have compared the movement to being buffeted by strong winds, sliding on black ice, or hydroplaning. They said that after trying to straighten the car, it can overcorrect, requiring the driver to use “a tight, persistent, two-handed grip on the wheel to travel in a straight line”.

Reports to the NHTSA have cited six US accidents resulting in 10 injuries related to the problem.

Toyota’s current tenth-generation Corolla, released in Australia in May 2007, was the first to switch from a conventional hydraulic power steering system to a now-commonplace drive-by-wire electric system.

First introduced in Japan in 1966, the Corolla - which when combined with the Auris, as it is known in some markets - became the world's top-selling automotive nameplate in 2007, with one example being sold every 40 seconds on average over the past 40 years.

Previously built in Victoria, the Corolla is now manufactured in Canada, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UK and Venezuela, with US production at the former General Motors plant at Fremont, California due to end next month.

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