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Quality of New Toyota Model Questioned: Wall Street Journal

September 23, 2003

Quality is suddenly a problem for a major new model from Toyota, a vehicle maker with a reputation for trouble-free cars, the Sept. 23 edition of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported via Dow Jones Newswires.The WSJ said that, last month, the Japanese company said it was recalling 34,000 redesigned 2004 Sienna minivans sold since earlier this year because of a fuel tank that suffered damage and leaked during crash tests.Now, the newspaper added, that problem threatens to stall the momentum of the otherwise well-received minivan because Toyota has been producing Siennas without fuel tanks at its Princeton, Ind., assembly plant and holding the vehicles until redesigned tanks arrive – as dealers run short of stock and sales growth slows.Toyota spokesman John Hanson told the Wall Street Journal that, as of Sept. 22, the company had only a two-day supply of the new Siennas at its dealerships and added that the low supply was a reflection of strong demand for the vehicle, as well as a shortage of the replacement petrol tanks.The WSJ said that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the Sienna's fuel tank was damaged during severe crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.A fire could result if fuel leaked from the damaged tank, the NHTSA said, according to the Wall Street Journal, though Toyota told the newspaper there have been no injuries or fires related to the defect.
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