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Toyota to Protect Dealers on Air Bags

CALIFORNIA / News and Insight on Business in the Golden
State | THE STATE / AUTOS

May 12, 1998|Associated Press

Toyota Motor Sales USA said it will legally protect dealers who install air bag on-off switches for qualified customers. The Torrance-based unit of Japan's No. 1 auto maker, Toyota Motor Corp., said its parts policy covers lawsuits over alleged defects in installing Toyota switches. In addition, Toyota said it will provide coverage in excess of dealers' insurance levels for installing air bag switches. "While this policy will not solve all the liability issues surrounding this very sensitive issue, we do believe that it will encourage an increased number of dealers to participate in the program," said Jim Olson, a senior vice president at Toyota. General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. in February notified dealers of legal protection in installing the switches. The federal government allows vehicle owners to get on/off switches if they or their children are at higher risk of being killed by a deploying air bag. People can get permission to install the switches from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many dealers have refused to install the switches because they fear lawsuits from accidents in which air bags are turned off. A survey of 700 auto repair shops in January found that two-thirds refused to install switches.

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