Toyota’s mass recall of models affected by a sticking accelerator pedal will now extend to Europe.
The problem has previously believed to be isolated to models built and sold in the US, where more than eight million cars have so far been recalled. Details of the European recall will be confirmed later today or tomorrow.
A Toyota spokesman told Autocar that Toyota was working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and safety was the firm's primary concern at this moment.
"Recalls are nothing new, but the size and volume of this one ensures it's going to be big news," said the spokesman. "It's important to get this sorted as soon as possible."
Accelerator pedal mechanisms in certain Toyota models have stuck in a depressed position or returned slowly to idle. This has caused several accidents in the US, but an exact number hasn’t been released.
The Wall Street Journal claims Toyota first noticed problems with accelerator pedals in March 2007 in the Tundra pick-up. The problem surfaced again in the December 2008, where faults were discovered in right-hand drive Yaris and Aygo models, both of which are a common sight on UK roads.
The Journal also said a Toyota investigation found condensation from the affected models' heaters had caused friction in the accelerator pedals causing them to stick. From August 2009, Toyota fixed this problem in Europe by lengthening the arm of the friction lever and changing materials on all affected models.
Toyota has so far declined to comment on claims that more than two million European models would need to be recalled to fix the problem.
In a statement, Toyota said: "The details of corrective action and implementation will be communicated directly to customers with vehicles potentially affected. The models and exact number of potentially affected vehicles is under investigation.
"A running change in production using different parts has already been implemented model-by-model in the European production. Therefore there is no need or intention to stop production in Europe.
"Whilst this condition is rare we advise customers who have concerns to contact Toyota GB Customer Relations (0800 1388744) for assistance ahead of the recall instructions being issued."
Yesterday, Toyota suspended sales of eight models sold in the US that have been affected by the problem. Although Toyota maintains this was a voluntary decision, The Detroit News said the decision was required to be taken by law.
Discussing the US recall, Toyota vice president Bob Carter said: “Helping ensure the safety of our customers and restoring confidence in Toyota are very important to our company.
“This action is necessary until a remedy is finalised. We're making every effort to address this situation for our customers as quickly as possible.
Its shares in Japan fell 4.3 per cent yesterday and a further 3.9 per cent today.
“It is still uncertain how this recall problem will affect Toyota's profits,” said Masatoshi Sato, market analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities. “But investors are worried it could really pressure the company's overall earnings."