Toyota has stopped selling its flagship Lexus, the plush LS sedan, while it waits for parts to reach dealers so the recalled cars can be fixed.
A recall notice was issued on the LS on Friday to fix a steering deficiency. If a driver makes a sharp turn in the LS, the steering wheel may not return to its original position.
Though the stoppage won’t mean much to Toyota in terms of the number of LS cars it sells — Lexus sold only about 4,000 in the first four months of the year — the move is another blow to its pride. The LS is the pinnacle of the Lexus brand, a big car with every feature that Toyota could dream up. The current version was the first with an eight-speed transmission and was first with a feature to parallel park itself. Prices range up to $108,800 for the hybrid version.
The recall notice issued Friday covered 3,800 LS models in the U.S. and a total of about 11,500 cars worldwide. The decision to stop selling the LS “is normal procedure if a (recall) remedy is not immediately available for a recall,” Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said.
Last month, Toyota halted sales of another Lexus model, the GX 460, while a recall was underway to fix a defect that made it more susceptible to rollovers. In January, Toyota stopped selling eight models while it launched a giant recall to fix sticky gas pedals.
Added to Toyota’s troubles, a Los Angeles Times story Sunday alleged that Toyota balked at repairing transmissions in 2002 to 2006 Lexus ES cars, a glitch that would result in hundreds of complaints and 49 injuries.
The car, the newspaper says in an investigative report, had a tendency to jerk forward.
In a statement, Toyota dismissed the findings of the Times story. It said that the issues involved customer preferences in terms of how the car drove, or “drivability,” not safety issues.
Toyota recently paid a record $16.4 million fine for not being more aggressive in initiating a recall for sticky accelerator pedals.