Toyota in the Hot Seat for its – Literally – Hot Seats
Toyota has put the kibosh on North American sales of six popular models with heated seats that fall short of US safety standards, E3 Spark Plugs learned today. Turns out heated seats in certain 2013 and 2014 Camry, Avalon, Sienna and Tacoma vehicles are made with a fabric that doesn’t meet inflammability standards.
As of yet there have been no confirmed reports of behind-burning incidents involving any of the affected rides. But US officials aren’t about to take any chances. It’s illegal to sell automobiles that don’t meet established safety standards, so the sales came to an abrupt halt this week. The move will affect upwards of 36,000 cars at dealerships nationwide. That’s about 13 percent of Toyota cars currently at U.S. dealers.
Back at the factories, Toyota already is installing new, safety standard-compliant materials in the heated seats of new cars coming off the assembly line. And they’re sending new material and parts to switch into existing cars already on the lot. No word yet on how long that process will take.
Mind you, because there have been no reports of scorched skivvies, officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration haven’t yet issued a recall, and may never. A spokesperson says the agency is checking into the matter and will decide soon whether to officially recall cars already sold in the US.
For the record, the problem was discovered by safety regulators on South Korea who disassembled seats and tested individual fabrics. US safety standards require that fabrics resist flames at a certain rate, but one particular fabric lit up way too quickly.