RIYADH, (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Consumer Protection Association (CPA) on Sunday urged authorities to force Japanese carmaker Toyota’s (7203.T) local agent Abdul Latif Jameel Co (ALJ) to recall and check for defaults in cars it sold locally.
An official at ALJ said the company would invite within two weeks owners of Toyota Sequoia and Avalon models — both of which are produced in the United States — to get their cars checked.
CPA’s call, made in a statement sent to media, is the first by a consumer protection group in the Gulf Arab region — where Saudi Arabia is the biggest auto market — after Toyota recalled some 8 million cars worldwide on safety glitches.
The Gulf Arab region accounted for 6.5 percent of Toyota’s global car sales, Jim Sakaguchi, Toyota’s marketing general manager for the Middle East and southwest Asia, told al-Eqtisadiah newspaper in an interview last year.
In its statement, the CPA urged the government to enact a trade ministry decree issued in 2001 that makes it compulsory for a carmaker and its local agent to recall all models that were proven to show defaults.
“The Association urges government entities … to play their role, monitor and clarify the situation for consumers and also demand that Toyota cars’ agent does the necessary and recall cars to make sure they are not affected by this glitch and fix it if necessary,” the CPA said.
DIFFERENCE IN CLIMATE
Toyota said on Feb. 2 the 2005-2010 model year Avalons and 2009-2010 Sequoia cars sold in the Middle East had been shipped from the United States, where those models have been subject to a recall related to faulty accelerator pedals.
Toyota said in a statement distributed in the Middle East that the same problem afflicting cars in North America, Europe and China was unlikely to occur in the Middle East due to the difference in climate.
However, Toyota’s distributor in the United Arab Emirates, Al-Futtaim Motors, said the two models would be recalled in the Gulf country in a service campaign similar to the one in the United States.
Saudi’s CPA did not however demand any action on other carmakers such as Ford (F.N) and Honda (7267.T) that had to recall some models due to glitches.
“We have not received any complaints from our customers in Saudi Arabia about the accelerator pedal problem. But we will invite within two weeks owners of Avalon and Sequoia (models) to bring their cars for checks,” an ALJ official said.
ALJ has been Toyota’s sole distributor in Saudi Arabia for more than 50 years and claims to be Toyota’s largest independent distributor in the world, according to its website.
Last year it bought a 65 percent stake that was held by Sabanci Holding in Toyotasa, a Turkish car manufacturer in which Toyota and Mitsui and Co are also partners.
CPA was created in 2008 with the endorsement of King Abdullah.
Car sales in Saudi Arabia accounted for about 3 percent of the biggest Arab economy’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008.
State-owned National Commercial Bank estimated at 42 billion riyals ($11.2 billion) the total value of some 620,000 new cars sold in Saudi Arabia by major agents in 2008.