Japan's Toyota finds wheel, airbag fixes for recalled EVs

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s top automaker Toyota said Thursday that it has identified how to fix its 2023 model year bZ4X crossover electric vehicles after recalling 2,700 of them in June out of concern wheel bolts might become loose, risking a crash.

The fix will enable Toyota Motor Corp. to resume making and selling the EVs, a key model in the company's effort to strengthen its electric lineup. Toyota officials said they hoped the fix would help restore the company’s reputation for quality.

The maker of the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models has scored great success with its hybrids and fuel cells, but it has at times been seen as a straggler in electric vehicles. The “bZ” in the model’s name stands for a “beyond zero” series, referring to its being free of emissions.

Toyota said new bolt parts needed to fix the problem with the bZ4X will become available for all global customers by November. The company said hub bolts and wheels of all vehicles in the recall will be replaced at no cost to customers.

Since issuing the global safety recall, Toyota has been investigating the cause of the problem. It said that if the hub bolts attaching the wheels to the cars became loose, the wheels might loosen and cause a crash. The company showed a diagram illustrating that an extra part could be added to the bolt to secure it in place.

Among the vehicles subject to the latest recall, about 2,200 were destined for Europe, 270 for North America, 112 for Japan, and 60 for the rest of Asia, according to Toyota. They were produced between March and June.

No crashes have been reported, according to a statement on the transport ministry's website.

Toyota also announced a fix for a strap on the curtain-shield airbag in the same vehicles under recall. The faulty strap could injure the driver when the airbag deploys, the automaker said.

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press