Auto Service World
News   April 14, 2010   by Auto Service World

Latest Blow for Toyota has Far Reaching Effects

On the heels of a rare “Don’t Buy” rating by Consumer Reports, Toyota has decided to temporarily stop selling the Lexus GX460 SUV, putting the China launch of the SUV in jeopardy.

“For more than 20 years, Lexus has made customer safety and satisfaction our highest priorities. We are taking the situation with the GX 460 very seriously and are determined to identify and correct the issue Consumer Reports identified. At this time we have asked our dealers to temporarily suspend sales of the 2010 GX 460,” said From Mark Templin, Lexus Group vice president and general manager.

Templin emphasized that Lexus’ extensive vehicle testing provides a good indication of how our vehicles perform and the company is confident that the GX meets its safety standards. However, he also said that engineers were looking at the Consumer Reports testing parameters to identify any improvements that could be made to the vehicle.

The Consumer Reports “Don’t Buy” rating came after testing showed the SUV slewed sideways during a maneuver, despite being equipped with electronic stability control. The Consumer Reports group said that this could result in a rollover in certain conditions.

Despite the obvious difficultly that the latest report poses for Toyota–coming as it does as just the latest in a series of questions about vehicle safety–it also specifically throws a wrench into the works as the automaker primes to introduce the SUV in China.

A Beijing-based company spokesman said Toyota was preparing to launch the Lexus GX 460 in the next few weeks, but the plan is on hold after the company decided to temporarily halt U.S. sales of the vehicle.

“We have no idea when we might be able to launch the car” in China, said Toyota spokesman Hitoshi Yokoyama.