Last week, Toyota let it be known that a number of its more-popular vehicles were subject to a "stop-sale" order due to faulty seat heaters on these vehicles. No injuries were reported, but the problem affected a lot of models, including the 2013 and 2014 Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid, Sienna, Corolla, Tacoma and Tundra. Toyota originally said 50,000 vehicles were involved, but Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, knocked that down to 30,000 during an interview at the Chicago Auto Show this week and said that the problem is not going to have a big impact on Toyota's sales.
"It's an important situation but it will have a very minor impact on February sales," he told AutoblogGreen. "Dealers will start receiving new heating elements this week and then we have a process to take out the heating element that was put in and exchange that for the new fabric. It's very simple. It's a quick repair." Quick in this situation means about three hours to swap out the heating elements in two seats, according to Toyota's John Hanson. Since the Avalon also has heated rear seats, that car will require a total of six hours in the shop. Hanson said there was no official timeline for when the exchange program would be completed, "but new vehicles are arriving at some dealerships with the new seat heaters already installed."
With a fix already in place, Carter would not comment on whether a recall is likely, saying only, "I'm not the expert on that. We're working with the NHTSA and ultimately it's their decision. We believe it's an inconsequential compliance error that was made by one of our suppliers and we're going to correct it."