All this year, as American auto manufacturers imploded -- Chrysler going belly-up, General Motors killing off Pontiac and Saturn, Ford and GM trying to sell off brands like Saab, Jaguar and Hummer -- it appeared to be business as usual at Gentile Automotive Group. The dealership's two showrooms on Washington Avenue offer some of the best-selling foreign brands on the road today: Toyota (its Camry has been the best-selling car in the U.S. for seven years), Honda, Scion, Subaru, Hyundai and Nissan.
But today, Gentile was hit a body blow, as Toyota announced a recall of nearly 2.3 million vehicles because of a sticky accelerator pedal that reportedly has led to thousands of accidents. And an immediate sales suspension of the 2009-2010 RAV4, the 2009-2010 Corolla, the 2009-2010 Matrix, the 2005-2010 Avalon, the 2007-2010 Camry, the 2010 Highlander, the 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia.
The 2009-2010 Pontiac Vibe, built by Toyota for General Motors, is also expected to be included in the recall list. Toyota sold 650,000 Camrys and Corollas in the U.S. last year.
The recall and sales halt comes just a few months after Toyota recalled 4.2 million vehicles due to gas pedals that could become trapped under floor mats, causing the vehicle to accelerate.
We attempted to get local reaction and information from Gentile Automotive, but Brian Hansen, general sales manager -- who, understandably, is up to his ears in the problem -- could only refer us to Toyota's media information specialists.
Toyota recommends that drivers call their local dealer if the gas pedal is sticking or difficult to depress. The company said drivers in their vehicle would need to step on the brake pedal with both feet, shift the vehicle into neutral and turn off the engine after pulling over to the side of the road.
Toyota is the world's leading automaker. Bob Carter, U.S. group vice president, said, "We're making every effort to address this situation for our customers as quickly as possible."