TOKYO - Toyota is recalling 2,700 bZ4X crossover vehicles globally for wheel bolts that could become loose, in a major setback for the Japanese automaker’s ambitions to roll out electric cars.
Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday the cause is still under investigation, but the whole wheel could come off, risking a crash.
"Until the remedy is available, no one should drive these vehicles," the company said in a statement.
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.
The bZ4X, which went on sale about two months ago, is a key model in Toyota’s plans to strengthen its electric lineup.
Toyota is planning to have 30 EV models by 2030, selling 3.5 million electric vehicles globally that year. Toyota is also investing 2 trillion yen ($17.6 billion) in battery research and development to achieve such goals.
The "bz" in the recalled model’s name, as well as others in the works, stands for a "beyond zero" series, including sport-utility vehicles of all sizes, pickup trucks and sportscars, according to Toyota.
The maker of the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models has been seen by some critics as a straggler in pushing electric vehicles, partly because it has been so bullish, and successful, in other green technology, such as hybrids and fuel cells, as well as efficient gas engines.
Demand for electric cars is expected to continue growing, especially with gas prices soaring recently, amid worries about inflation and the war in Ukraine, and as people around the world become more conscious about climate change and the environment.