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Toyota agrees to US $1.1b. settlement

DETROIT — Toyota Motor Corp has agreed to spend $1.1 billion to settle sweeping US class-action litigation over claims that millions of its vehicles accelerate unintentionally, as the Japanese automaker seeks to move past the biggest safety crisis in its history.

Shares of Toyota rose nearly three per cent in Tokyo following the news, with some investors saying the settlement removed one uncertainty for the company and looked manageable given its improving sales outlook and a weaker yen.

The proposed settlement will compensate customers for economic losses related to possible safety defects in Toyota vehicles, covering most of the litigation involving unintended acceleration, although it does not cover claims for wrongful death or injuries.

About 16 million Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles sold in the United States spanning the model years 1998 to 2010 are covered by the action, according to court filings made public yesterday. Thirty nameplates are affected, including the top-selling Toyota Camry midsize sedan and Corolla compact car.

Toyota, the No. 3 automaker in the US market, admitted no fault in proposing the settlement, one of the largest of US mass class-action litigation in the automotive sector.

“This was a difficult decision, especially since reliable scientific evidence and multiple independent evaluations have confirmed the safety of Toyota’s electronic throttle control systems,” Christopher Reynolds, general counsel for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, said in a statement.

“However, we concluded that turning the page on this legacy legal issue through the positive steps we are taking is in the best interests of the company, our employees, our dealers and, most of all, our customers.” (Reuters)

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