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Japan's top world automaker Toyota secretly bought back some of the faulty vehicles it sold on the market in a bid to hide their defects from the public, the lawyers of clients suing the automaker said Friday.
One complaint filed in California and obtained by AFP said that, contrary to the company's statements, Toyota technicians have replicated the sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) problem that led to the recall of millions of its vehicles months ago.
"Upon the technicians replicating a SUA event, Toyota decided it was in the customer's 'interest' for Toyota to buy back the vehicle, meaning in reality that Toyota decided to remove this vehicle from the market since it was experiencing SUA incidents that could not be blamed on the driver," said the complaint.
"And, to further conceal the defect, Toyota required as a condition of the vehicle repurchase that the owner sign a confidentiality agreement and agree not to sue," it added.
Toyota Motor Corp. denied claims by plaintiffs’ lawyers that it secretly bought back vehicles from U.S. customers who complained to dealers of sudden acceleration and said it hasn’t been able to reproduce such occurrences. “Toyota engineers did not observe these dealer tests, nor have they been able to replicate unintended acceleration as reported,” Steven Curtis, a Toyota spokesman, said in an e-mail message. The company bought back two vehicles from customers who had complained, and didn’t ask them to sign confidentiality agreements, Curtis said.