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Recalls raise local concerns

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Though the fallout from Toyota's international recall has not had a debilitating impact on the local car industry, it has caused enough of a scare to make some dealers in the used car sector concerned.

Ian Lyn, president of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association (JUCDA), told
that several of his members have got calls from prospective clients about the safety of their Toyota vehicles.

"They are asking for Hondas and Nissans so you do feel some people moving away (from Toyotas). Even when they are told that the vehicles are safe they are still sceptical," Lyn explained.

According to Lyn, Japan's Toyota is the most popular brand among local used car buyers. Last year, he said, most of Jamaica's 94 dealers brought in approximately 6,000 of the brand from that country which accounted for 60 per cent of their sales.

The Altis, Vitz and Passoa are the strongest sellers for local dealers, but even though they have not been listed among the Toyota defects, Lyn said buyers remained wary. Despite this, his members are not ready to press the panic button.

"We're not at that point yet, we're basically sitting and watching," he said.

Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Rent-A-Car Association Limited, Winston McCalla, says there has been no negative reports from his 28 members, most of whose fleet comprises Toyota and Suzuki vehicles.

A black eye

Many members in that 40-year-old association service the tourist industry.

The massive recall has been a black eye for Toyota, one of the world's largest car manufacturers. It was forced to recall over eight million vehicles due to reports of defective steerings, gas pedals, accelerators and brakes.

Dealers worldwide said the Camry and Corolla, two of Toyota's biggest sellers, have been most affected. Last week, company president Akio Toyoda appeared before the United States Congress and apologised for the problems.

John Connell, manager of Toyota Jamaica Limited, recently gave the vehicles at the local dealership a clean bill of health.