Toyota Motors has halted the sale of several popular models over the concerns about the flammability of certain seat fabrics. The issue rests not with the cloth and leather seat-covers themselves, but with a component of seat heater beneath the seats that fails to meet the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for flame retardancy.
Almost 36,000 unsold cars in the U.S. are equipped with these type of seat heaters. The affected models includes various polpular names such as Camry, Camry hybrid, Avalon, Avalon hybrid, Corolla, Sienna, Tundra and Tacoma. Only vehicles made in Toyota's U.S. plants and equipped with the heated seats, come under this 'Stop-Sale' order. Though, company isn't conducting a recall for the much larger number of already sold models, as according to the company, the problem is not such a significant safety risk.
The issue was discovered, when some of the imported cars were tested by a safety agency in South Korea. After testing, the Korean Automotive Test and Research Institute found that the fabric backing material used near seat heaters did not meet U.S vehicle flammability standards.
After all this conterversy happened, Toyota finally issued a statement that, “The fabric in the seats is flame retardant, it is a matter of HOW flame retardant when tested. Per NHTSA regulations Toyota will file a petition for a determination that this non-compliance issue is inconsequential relative to motor vehicle safety. NHTSA will determine if the petition will be accepted or denied.”