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Toyota has announced its support for a group of engineers who are developing a flying car.

The Japanese auto maker will give 40 million yen ($355, 000) to the Cartivator group that operates outside Toyota city in central Japan.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports Toyota and its group companies have agreed in principle to back the project.

So far, crowdfunding has paid for development of the so-called Skydrive car, which uses drone technology and has three wheels and four rotors.

Measuring 9.5ft by 4.3ft, Skydrive claims to be the world’s smallest flying car.

It has a projected top flight speed of 100km/h (62mph), while traveling up to 10m above the ground.

The team of 30 volunteers developing the Skydrive car hopes its prototype could be used to light the Olympic flame when Tokyo hosts the summer games in 2020.

Flying cars are something of a flavor-of-the-month at present, with companies from the US, Germany, Netherlands, China and Japan looking to turn science fiction into reality.

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VW has overtaken Toyota to become the world’s best-selling automaker.

This is the first time the German company has held the position.

Toyota, which had topped sales for the past four years, sold 10.175 million vehicles globally in 2016.

That fell short of the 10.31 million sales which VW reported last week.

The milestone comes despite Volkswagen’s scandal over emissions tests cheating, which sparked a global backlash and multiple lawsuits.

Volkswagen, which makes the Audi, Porsche and Skoda brands, saw a 3.8% increase in sales buoyed by demand in China.

Toyota’s sales grew by 0.2% – though it appears to have suffered from a slowdown in the US car industry.

GM reports its figures next week, but it is expected to lag both Toyota and VW.

General Motors was the world’s third-largest automaker in 2015. It held the number one title in 2011 after Toyota’s production was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan.

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Toyota has reported a 4.7% year-on-year rise in net income for Q4 of 2015, to 627.9 billion yen ($5.37 billion), due in part to stronger sales in the US.

The Japanese company, the world’s biggest automaker, also raised its North America sales forecast for the full year to March, because of the higher US demand.

However, operating profit for the quarter fell by 5.3%, missing forecasts.

The car industry has been hurt by a global slowdown, particularly in China.

Toyota said net income for the year to March was still likely to come in at 2.27 trillion yen.

“Our latest forecast remains unchanged from the previous forecast, having reflected both positive factors – such as progress in cost reduction and the weaker-than-expected yen so far,” managing officer Tetsuya Otake said.Toyota profit 2015

In the nine months to December, Toyota said consolidated vehicle sales came in at 6,492,784 vehicles – a decrease of 246,374 compared with the same period last a year earlier.

It said sales in North America had increased by 33,032 vehicles to 2,140,655 because of strong demand from the US.

In Asia, however, vehicle sales fell by 112,478 vehicles to 1,016,235 over the nine months.

In the face of slowing global growth, Toyota has been trying to cut costs and improve productivity at its factories. It has also faced a string of recalls in recent months.

Earlier this week, Toyota announced a recall of 320,000 trucks and SUVs over problems with airbags, saying they could inflate without a collision.

In November 2015, Toyota recalled 1.6 million vehicles equipped with faulty airbags. In October 2015, Toyota recalled 6.5 million vehicles over a faulty window switch.

The company has recalled about 15 million vehicles fitted with the bags since 2013.

On February 5, Toyota also announced a share buyback of about 150 billion yen worth of outstanding shares.

Despite the recall worries, Toyota won back the crown of the world’s largest automaker by sales in the first nine months 2015 from Germany’s Volkswagen.

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Toyota has overtaken VW in global vehicle sales after releasing figures for the first nine months of 2015.

The Japanese automaker sold 7.5 million in the first three quarters of 2015, beating VW’s 7.43 million and General Motors’ 7.2 million.

After six months of 2015, VW was ahead of Toyota, in pole position for the first time.

VW’s emissions scandal emerged towards the end of September.

The discovery of software that was able to mislead emissions tests on diesel cars may have more effect on VW’s sales in the remainder of the year.Toyota Overtakes VW in Global Car Sales

Toyota’s sales for the first nine months were 1.5% below the level at the same stage last year.

Toyota first overtook GM to take the top slot in 2008 and has kept it every year since, except 2011 when GM was the top seller after a tsunami in north-eastern Japan disrupted Toyota’s production.

Separately, there was relief for General Motors on October 25 when it reached an agreement with the United Auto Workers union, averting a threatened strike.

Details of the four-year labor deal were not released. It will now go to a vote of UAW leaders and then the union’s 52,700 workers at GM.

“We believe that this agreement will present stable long-term significant wage gains and job security commitments to UAW members now and in the future,” said UAW president Dennis Williams.

The union had threatened that it would terminate its existing contract at midnight Eastern time on October 25, meaning there could have been a strike.

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A total of 6.5 million Toyota and Nissan cars are being recalled worldwide to replace potentially faulty airbag inflators produced by Takata.

Toyota said it was recalling just under 5 million cars, including the Corolla, Vitz and other models made between March 2003 and November 2007.

Nissan is recalling about 1.56 million cars over the same issue.

The Japanese carmakers said the recall was for investigative purposes and no accidents or injuries have been reported.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, said the recall affected 35 of its models made around the world and that it would include 1.36 million cars in Japan.

The move is the latest in the saga of potentially exploding airbags made by Japanese car parts maker Takata that has been linked to at least six deaths – all in Honda cars.

After the recalls by Toyota and Nissan were announced, Honda – Japan’s No 3 carmaker – said it was also preparing to announce more car recalls related to the air bags.

No details were given on the number of cars Honda would recall.

In March, Honda had said it was recalling another 100,000 vehicles in the US related to the airbags.

About 25 million vehicles with Takata airbags have been recalled worldwide by 10 different carmakers since 2008.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has expanded a recall of vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata airbags to 7.8 million.

The NHTSA warned that owners should take “immediate action”.

If deployed with force, the airbags have the potential to eject deadly shrapnel at passengers.

The NHTSA has identified 10 manufacturers who used Takata as a supplier, including General Motors, Honda, and Toyota.

The agency has told those who might own affected vehicles to check the list at www.safercar.gov, and specifically warned those living in more humid climates such as Florida and Hawaii to get their vehicles inspected.

“Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures,” said NHTSA deputy administrator David Friedman in a statement.

The NHTSA has expanded a recall of vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata airbags to 7.8 million

The NHTSA has expanded a recall of vehicles with potentially dangerous Takata airbags to 7.8 million

Initially, the NHTSA said that only 4.7 million cars could be affected, but it has increased the number of vehicles twice in recent days.

Japanese supplier Takata warned recently that older airbags could explode with too much force, which would send plastic and metal parts towards passengers with enough force to injure them.

Takata said it estimated that around 12 million vehicles around the globe may contain the parts.

The recall notices have been ongoing for the past 18 months, but regulators and car manufacturers have warned that only a small percentage of those cars potentially affected have been returned and inspected.

The majority of the affected vehicles – more than five million – are Honda cars manufactured between 2001 and 2011, including the Accord, Civic, and Pilot models.

Toyota is being caught in China’s anti-monopoly investigation.

The Japanese car maker said that Chinese regulators were looking into its Lexus luxury brand.

Audi, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz are among carmakers and parts suppliers already under scrutiny for as-yet unspecified anti-competitive issues.

Toyota is being caught in China’s anti-monopoly investigation

Toyota is being caught in China’s anti-monopoly investigation

A Toyota spokesman said the company was “co-operating fully with the queries from the authorities on Lexus”.

Although regulators have not set out the basis of their concerns, there have been reports in China of customers complaining about the high prices of imported vehicles and spare parts.

The technology and pharmaceutical sectors have also faced investigations in what analysts have said looks like an attempt to force down prices.

The investigations are being led by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which earlier this week raided a Mercedes office in Shanghai.

According to state news agency Xinhua, “inspectors are still collecting evidence and investigating whether Mercedes-Benz has used monopolistic tactics”.

Last month, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce – the body responsible for enforcing business laws – said it was looking into “alleged monopoly actions” by US tech firm Microsoft.

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Honda and Nissan have added 2.8 million cars to the recall they issued last year over a defect in passenger airbags.

Honda is recalling two million vehicles and Nissan 755,000 cars globally.

The affected cars have a defective part which “could cause the airbag inflator to rupture and deploy the airbag abnormally in a crash”.

Honda is adding 2 million vehicles to the recall they issued last year over a defect in passenger airbags

Honda is adding 2 million vehicles to the recall they issued last year over a defect in passenger airbags (photo AP)

The part was supplied by Takata Corp. Other firms, including Toyota, have also issued recalls due to the issue.

Earlier this month, Toyota added 650,000 cars – all in Japan – to its initial recall.

The latest recalls by the three Japanese car makers takes the total number of cars recalled due to the issue to nearly seven million globally.

Honda said its latest recall affects at least 13 models, including the Fit, Stream, CRV and Civic.

Meanwhile, Nissan’s recall affects 16 models globally, including the Cube, Terrano and Sylphy.

Both the firms said that there had been no reports of any accidents or injuries due to the issue.

Earlier this month, Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, said it had received one report of a seat cover burn due to the problem.

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Toyota has seen its profits nearly double, boosted by the Japanese yen’s weakness and cost cutting.

The carmaker made a net profit of 1.82 trillion yen ($17.8 billion) in the year to March 31, up from 962 billion yen a year ago.

Toyota has seen its profits nearly double, boosted by the Japanese yen's weakness and cost cutting

Toyota has seen its profits nearly double, boosted by the Japanese yen’s weakness and cost cutting

But that was lower than its February forecast of 1.9 trillion yen profit.

Japanese companies, especially those relying on exports, have benefited from the weakness in the yen which helps lift their profits when they repatriate their overseas earnings back home.

The Japanese yen has weakened by nearly 18% against the US dollar since the start of 2013 amid aggressive policy measures by the government.

Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, said the yen’s weakness boosted its profits by nearly 900bn yen during the past financial year.

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Toyota has decided to stop its car and engine production in Australia by the end of 2017, effectively marking the end of the country’s carmaking industry.

Toyota said it might scale down the operations of its development and technical centre in Australia as well.

Last year, Ford and General Motors’ Holden unit also announced plans to stop producing cars in Australia.

About 2,500 jobs are set to be lost as a result of Toyota’s decision, which it attributed to high manufacturing costs.

“We believed that we should continue producing vehicles in Australia, and Toyota and its workforce here made every effort,” said Toyota president Akio Toyoda.

“However, various negative factors such as an extremely competitive market and a strong Australian dollar, together with forecasts of a reduction in the total scale of vehicle production in Australia, have forced us to make this painful decision.”

Toyota, which first began making cars in Australia in 1963, said it “intends to provide the best support it can, including employment assistance” to those affected by the decision.

Vivek Vaidya, an automotive analyst at consultancy Frost & Sullivan, said he was not surprised by Toyota’s decision.

Toyota has decided to stop its car and engine production in Australia by the end of 2017

Toyota has decided to stop its car and engine production in Australia by the end of 2017

“Toyota was the last producer in Australia after exit of Mitsubishi, Ford and Holden,” he said.

“Labor cost in Australia is too high to be price competitive in production.”

Vivek Vaidya also said rival car-producing countries such as Thailand and the US were more attractive in terms of manufacturing costs.

Toyota’s decision comes despite appeals from Australian PM Tony Abbott, who has been looking to keep the carmaker operating in the country.

Car manufacturers have been pulling out of Australia as the rising cost of doing business in the country has hit profits.

Last May, Ford said it would close its car lines in Australia in October 2016 with the loss of more than 1,000 jobs.

General Motors’ Holden unit has also announced plans to stop production in 2017, affecting nearly 3,000 jobs.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors sold its last Australian-made car in 2010.

Australia’s carmaking industry has traditionally received billions of dollars in subsidies from the government.

However, a national commission recently recommended that the financial support should be ended and that car companies should cut costs instead.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) called Toyota’s decision “devastating” and warned the move could cause an economic recession.

Last year, Toyota – the world’s top global car maker by sales – found itself in a dispute with Australian car plant workers over proposed changes to their contracts, in an attempt to reduce costs.

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Toyota has announced it is expecting record annual earnings for 2013 as the weaker Japanese yen helps to boost sales abroad.

For the financial year ending March, it expects operating profit to reach 2.4 trillion Japanese yen ($23.7 billion).

The ongoing weakness in the yen also helped Toyota post better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter, with operating profit of 600 billion yen.

That is nearly five times higher than earnings in the same quarter one year ago.

Toyota has announced it is expecting record annual earnings for 2013 as the weaker Japanese yen helps to boost sales abroad

Toyota has announced it is expecting record annual earnings for 2013 as the weaker Japanese yen helps to boost sales abroad

Toyota said in a statement that its revised forecast is due to “progress in our recent profit improvement activities through cost reduction and marketing efforts, in addition to the change in our assumption of foreign exchange rates to reflect the depreciation of the yen.”

The Japanese currency has fallen by around 9% against the US dollar this year.

Toyota sold 9.98 million vehicles during 2013. That’s 270,000 more than its closest rival – US car giant General Motors.

Sales figures helped Toyota retain its position as the world’s largest carmaker by sales for two straight years.

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Toyota has asked US dealers to stop sales of some of its cars that are equipped with seat heaters.

The Japanese car maker said that a portion of the seat fabric in the affected models could burn at a rate faster than allowed by US regulations.

The models affected by the move include the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra.

Toyota said no fires or injuries had been reported due to the issue.

The firm said that nearly 36,000 vehicles currently with dealers – about 13% of their inventory – would be affected by the decision.

Toyota has asked US dealers to stop sales of some of its cars that are equipped with seat heaters

Toyota has asked US dealers to stop sales of some of its cars that are equipped with seat heaters

However, that number does not include vehicles that may have already been sold or those in transit to the dealers.

The move by Toyota comes at a time when parts of the US are facing record low temperatures.

Some analysts said that given the extreme winter conditions, demand for vehicles with heated seats was growing and the latest move may put Toyota at a disadvantage to its rivals.

The company is trying to rebuild its reputation after a series of recalls in recent years due to a variety of reasons.

Just over the past two years, Toyota has called back nearly 20 million vehicles globally.

Toyota has announced it is looking to start commercial sales of fuel cell-powered cars by 2015.

The Japanese carmaker set the target as it unveiled a concept fuel cell powered car, called the FCV, at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Its cells can be recharged within minutes and it can cover about 300 miles on a single charge, according to the firm.

Earlier this week, rival Hyundai said it plans to start mass production of such cars as early as next year.

The South Korean company has announced plans to start commercial sales of a fuel cell-powered version of its sports utility vehicle, the Tucson, in the US market.

Toyota is looking to start commercial sales of fuel cell-powered cars by 2015

Toyota is looking to start commercial sales of fuel cell-powered cars by 2015

Honda Motor is also expected to unveil its latest concept version of a fuel cell-powered vehicle later this week.

Many carmakers have been looking to develop the fuel cell technology further and bring it to mass production.

One of the main reasons is that it is emission-free.

The technology uses hydrogen to generate electricity to power the engine and the waste products are heat and harmless water.

At the same time, fuel cells charge much faster and travel a longer distance after being charged, compared with battery-operated electric cars.

However, there are concerns over the demand for such vehicles, not least because there are not enough hydrogen filling stations.

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Toyota and Nissan have announced new vehicle recalls.

Toyota is calling back 615,000 Sienna minivans in the US to fix a lever problem that could cause vehicles to shift out of park mode “without the driver depressing the brake pedal”.

Toyota said that it was aware of 24 “minor accidents” due to the issue.

Meanwhile, Nissan said it is recalling 908,900 vehicles globally due to a flaw in an accelerator sensor but added that no accidents had been reported.

Toyota's recall applies to models made during 2004 to 2005 and 2007 to 2009

Toyota’s recall applies to models made during 2004 to 2005 and 2007 to 2009

Nissan said the accelerator pedal’s sensor could become unstable, leading to a less-than-intended acceleration. It added that in a worst case scenario, the engine could stall.

Its recall affects Infiniti M, Serena, X-Trail, Lafesta and Fuga models produced in Japan between 2004 and 2013.

Toyota’s recall applies to models made during 2004 to 2005 and 2007 to 2009.

This is the second time in a month that Toyota has issued a recall of its vehicles in the US market.

Earlier in September, Toyota issued a recall for more than 780,000 vehicles in the US to address a suspension defect in its RAV4 and Lexus HS 250h models, on fears that an initial recall last year did not fix the problem

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Toyota has decided to recall 780,584 vehicles in the US for a second time to address a suspension defect that may not have been fixed after a recall last year.

The rear suspension arm in affected vehicles may rust, leading to eventual failure, if nuts are not tightened properly during service.

The US safety watchdog said this could “cause a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash”.

The models affected are the RAV4 sport utility vehicle and the Lexus HS 250h.

The RAV4 models covered by the recall were manufactured between 2006 and 2011, and the Lexus vehicles affected are the ones made between October 2005 and September 2010.

Toyota is recalling 780,584 vehicles in the US for a second time to address a suspension defect

Toyota is recalling 780,584 vehicles in the US for a second time to address a suspension defect

Toyota first recalled the vehicles in August last year to carry out repairs on the affected parts.

However, in a letter sent to dealers, which was posted on the safety agency’s website, Toyota said that it had received reports “indicating that some vehicles experienced symptoms of the recalled condition after being inspected or repaired”.

“Upon investigation, it was discovered that some inspections were not adequate and portions of the repair procedure may not have been performed correctly,” it added.

As part of the new inspection it has asked its dealers to replace suspension arms if any rust is found on them.

“After the inspection or replacement, the rear suspension alignment will be set and the arms will be sealed with an epoxy,” it said.

Toyota said it would then apply labels on the arms to indicate that they are no longer adjustable.

The recall comes just as Toyota has been trying to rebuild its image after a spate of recalls due to safety concerns in the past few years.

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Japanese carmaker Toyota has raised its forecast for annual profit as a weak yen and a recovery in sales in the US continue to boost its growth.

Toyota now expects to make a net profit of 1.48 trillion yen ($14.8bn) for the current financial year, up from its earlier projection of 1.37 trillion yen.

The carmaker raised the outlook as it said earnings for the April to June quarter had jumped 93% from a year ago.

Many Japanese firms have seen a surge in profits thanks to the weakening yen.

The yen has fallen by nearly 25% against the US dollar since November, after the government unveiled a series of aggressive policy moves.

A weak currency not only makes Japanese goods more affordable to foreign buyers but also helps to boost profits of exporters when they repatriate their foreign earnings back home.

On Friday, Toyota reported a net profit of 562 billion yen in the three months to the end of June, up from 290 billion yen during the same period last year.

Toyota has raised its forecast for annual profit as a weak yen and a recovery in sales in the US continue to boost its growth

Toyota has raised its forecast for annual profit as a weak yen and a recovery in sales in the US continue to boost its growth

The company said that cost cutting measures had also helped to lift its earnings during the quarter.

“Operating income increased due to the impact of foreign exchange rates and our global efforts for profit improvement, through cost reduction activities such as companywide value analysis,” Takuo Sasaki, chief marketing officer for Toyota, said in a statement.

Takuo Sasaki added that the “enhancement of the model mix and pricing” had also helped to boost profits.

Toyota also set a worldwide production target of 10.1 million vehicles for the 2013 calendar year, which would be a record across the industry.

It kept its sales goal for the year at 9.96 million vehicles, making it a close race with US rival General Motors for the title of world’s top carmaker.

Toyota said it sold 1.3 million vehicles in the US, its biggest market, in the January to July period, up 8% from a year ago.

The US accounts for nearly a quarter of Toyota’s global sales.

However, Toyota saw slower-than-expected growth in Southeast Asia, its third biggest market after North America and Japan.

Toyota sold about 539,000 vehicles in the region in the January-June period which was the same as last year, but 15% below the industry-wide growth.

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Top four Japanese carmakers are recalling 3.4 million cars globally over a defect in passenger airbags.

Toyota, which is recalling 1.73 million cars, said the vehicles had a defective part which “could cause the airbag inflator to rupture and deploy the airbag abnormally in a crash”.

Honda Motors is recalling 1.13 million cars, while 480,000 of Nissan’s and 45,000 Mazda cars are affected.

Top four Japanese carmakers are recalling 3.4 million cars globally over a defect in passenger airbags

Top four Japanese carmakers are recalling 3.4 million cars globally over a defect in passenger airbags

The cars were sold between 2000 and 2004.

The firms said the defective part was supplied by parts maker Takata Corp.

Shares in Takata fell 9% to 1,819 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Ryo Sakai, a spokesperson for Toyota, said the firm had received reports of five separate incidents of the airbag inflator being ruptured.

Two of these incidents took place in Japan and three in the US, Ryo Sakai said.

However, he added that there had been no injuries as a result of the incidents.

Meanwhile, Honda, Nissan and Mazda said that there had been no incidents involving their cars.

All four carmakers have said that they will replace the defective parts for free.

“We are conducting a voluntary safety recall to address this issue and replace the front passenger bag inflator,” said a spokesperson for Nissan.

“We plan to notify the customers over the next 30 days,” he added.

Toyota has given a taste of self-drive car safety technology ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 8-11, 2013.

Toyota revealed a video clip of a Lexus fitted with safety features designed to minimize car crashes.

The technology includes on-board radar and video cameras to monitor the road, the surroundings, and the driver.

The car can also communicate with other vehicles, according to a Toyota spokesman.

“We’re looking at a car that would eliminate crashes,” said the spokesman.

“Zero-collisions is our ultimate aim.”

The video shows a prototype Lexus LS fitted with what Toyota’s described as an “Intelligent Transport Systems” (ITS) technology.

Toyota has given a taste of self-drive car safety technology ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show 2013 in Las Vegas

Toyota has given a taste of self-drive car safety technology ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show 2013 in Las Vegas

The “advanced active safety research vehicle” prototype uses ITS and existing Toyota technology to monitor whether the driver is awake, to keep the car on the road, and to stop at traffic signals. The technology is designed to be used in conjunction with a driver, but the car can control itself, said the spokesman.

“Not the Jetsons yet, but our advanced active safety research car is leading the industry into a new automated era,” Toyota said in a Tweet on Thursday.

Toyota has also developed technology that lets a car communicate with a driver’s smartphone to offer augmented reality features. This would let the car know about places by the road letting it, for example. recommend an upcoming restaurant, said the spokesman.

Toyota is one of several heavy-weight car manufacturers and technology companies researching autonomous vehicles.

Audi is due to demonstrate a self-parking car at CES, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday.

Google was awarded an autonomous car patent in 2011, and secured a Nevada driving licence for its self-drive car in May 2012. In the same month Volvo tested a self-drive convoy on a Spanish motorway.

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Toyota has agreed on a more than $1 billion compensation deal to settle a legal case involving unintended acceleration problems in its vehicles.

Toyota said the deal will resolve hundreds of lawsuits from the giant carmaker owners who said the value of their cars and trucks plummeted after a series of recalls stemming from claims the firm’s vehicles accelerated unintentionally.

Steve Berman, a lawyer representing Toyota owners, said the settlement is the largest in US history involving automobile defects.

“We kept fighting and fighting and we secured what we think was a good settlement given the risks of this litigation,” Steve Berman said.

The proposed deal was filed on Wednesday and must receive the approval of US District Judge James Selna, who was expected to review the settlement on Friday.

Toyota said it will take a one-time, $1.1 billion pre-tax charge against earnings to cover the estimated costs of the settlement. Steve Berman said the total value of the deal is between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Toyota since 2009, when the Japanese automaker started receiving numerous complaints that its cars accelerated on their own, causing crashes, injuries and even deaths.

The cases were consolidated in US District Court in Santa Ana and divided into two categories: economic loss and wrongful death. Claims by people who seek compensation for injury and death due to sudden acceleration are not part of the settlement – the first trial involving those suits is scheduled for February.

Toyota has agreed on a more than $1 billion compensation deal to settle a legal case involving unintended acceleration problems in its vehicles

Toyota has agreed on a more than $1 billion compensation deal to settle a legal case involving unintended acceleration problems in its vehicles

As part of the economic loss settlement, Toyota will offer cash payments from a pool of about $250 million to eligible customers who sold vehicles or turned in leased vehicles between September 2009 and December 2010.

The company also will launch a $250 million program for 16 million current owners to provide supplemental warranty coverage for certain vehicle components, and it will retrofit about 3.2 million vehicles with a brake override system.

An override system is designed to ensure a car will stop when the brakes are applied, even if the accelerator pedal is depressed.

The settlement would also establish additional driver education programs and fund new research into advanced safety technologies.

“In keeping with our core principles, we have structured this agreement in ways that work to put our customers first and demonstrate that they can count on Toyota to stand behind our vehicles,” said Christopher Reynolds, Toyota vice president.

Current and former Toyota owners are expected to receive more information about the settlement in the coming months. Some information is also available at www.ToyotaELsettlement.com, a website created for Toyota owners affected by the settlement.

“We are extraordinarily proud of how we were able to represent the interests of Toyota owners, and believe this settlement is both comprehensive in its scope and fair in compensation,” Steve Berman said.

Toyota has recalled more than 14 million vehicles worldwide due to acceleration problems in several models and brake defects with the Prius hybrid. The automaker has blamed driver error, faulty floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals for the problems.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have spent the past two years deposing Toyota employees, poring over thousands of documents and reviewing software code, but the company maintains those lawyers have been unable to prove that a design defect – namely Toyota’s electronic throttle control system – was responsible for vehicles surging unexpectedly.

Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NASA were unable to find any defects in Toyota’s source code that could cause problems. The company has been dogged by fines for not reporting problems in a timely manner.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda appeared before Congress last year and pledged to strengthen quality control. Recent sales figures show the company appears to have rebounded following its safety issues.

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Toyota is voluntarily recalling more than 7 million vehicles worldwide, including some Yaris, Corolla and Camry models, over faulty window switches.

Toyota said these would include 1.39 million vehicles across Europe, 2.47 million in the US and 1.4 million in China.

It is the biggest single one since Ford recalled 8 million vehicles in 1996.

Toyota said there had been no reports of accidents, injuries or deaths as a result of the window problem.

Toyota is also recalling 459,000 vehicles in Japan, 650,000 vehicles in Australia and Asia, as well as hundreds of thousands from across the Middle East, and from within Canada.

The range of Toyota cars affected include certain models of the Yaris, Vios, Corolla, Matrix, Auris, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, Tundra, Sequoia, xB and xD produced between 2005 and 2010.

The company said in a statement that the problem lay with the electric window switch that controls the windows for the driver and passengers.

It says that on certain models the switch may not operate smoothly and could then end up becoming stiff or not working.

Toyota says that applying oil to the switch could cause it to overheat and possibly melt.

It will be contacting drivers with the affected models over the coming weeks and asking them to bring their car in for checks to see if there is a fault.