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Toyota busted for faux leather

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    The vehicles involved were sold between 2005 and 2009 and include variants of the Aurion, Camry, Kluger and Prado.

Almost 100,000 Toyota cars sold in Australia don’t have the claimed leather.

Toyota has been busted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for making false claims about leather seats across several car ranges sold between 2005 and 2009. They were in fact partial or faux leather.

“The ACCC was concerned that consumers were likely to have been misled by these claims. If consumers are prepared to pay a premium to have quality finishes for their car interiors, they are entitled to get what they paid for,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Toyota issued a statement today apologising to customers: “Toyota Australia acknowledges the statement from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. We apologise if any customer felt they were misled as a result of our advertising.”

The vehicles involved in the investigation were sold between 2005 and 2009 and include variants of the Aurion, Camry, Kluger and Prado -- about 98,500 vehicles, the car maker says.

“In most cases everything that people sit on or touch is genuine leather in the affected vehicle models,” the statement said. “The areas where synthetic material is used are those that are more prone to wear and tear, such as the back of the seat and door trim. This helps make the areas easier to clean and wear more consistently.”

Toyota says that as soon as it became aware of the issue it changed advertising to ‘leather accent’ or ‘leather accented’. “This change was made to indicate that the interior was a combination of genuine leather and synthetic material,” the company said.

Toyota says impacted customers will receive $200 off the purchase price of their next Toyota vehicle – but only if they ask. It has set up a hotline to organise a voucher: 1800 869 682.

"It is important consumers are not misled on any feature of a car," AAA executive director Andrew McKellar said. "We welcome the fact the ACCC has hauled them into line on this. I doubt this is a unique instance and should send a strong signal to all brands".

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling


Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 5 comments

  • As a furniture upholsterer, I can tell you that the response from Toyota is rubbish. While both "Faux Leather" (Vinyl), and Genuine Leather are suited to commercial applications, Genuine Leather is a much superior product from a wear and tear point of view, not the other way around as they've stated. Almost all "Leather" furniture is being imported from overseas these days and being sold as Genuine Leather. I can tell you that almost all of it is Vinyl. For some reason they're allowed to get away with it. There's a very good reason "Leather" furniture is so cheap these days.

    Don't be fooled of Melbourne Posted on 13 February 2013 2:05pm
  • As long as it's not made from horse. I'm ok with it. And its only on the back of the seat. Which you are sitting on anyway so no one will even notice that's it not leather.

    declan of Melbourne Posted on 13 February 2013 1:13pm
  • And I'm sure we will se this issue buried in the back pages of the press as Toyota's advertising budget gets primary consideration. Shame - again!

    Dave of adelaide Posted on 13 February 2013 1:01pm
  • Just another example of the rorting Toyota has wreaked on naiive Australians - WAKE UP!! There are many more quality and fraud issues to come out of Toyota than this and the world's biggest recall - over 20 million and still counting!

    Anything But Toyota Posted on 12 February 2013 9:15pm
  • I'm finding it hard to get angry about this. All the cars that claimed to have leather interiors, *did* have leather material in the important parts. They never claimed "the entire car is made out of leather" or "anything that happens to look like leather, will be leather". I highly doubt they are alone in this sort of thing, either. Not that it matters, I prefer to sit on cloth seats anyway smile Way more comfortable in summer.

    MatthewM of Sydney Posted on 12 February 2013 4:12pm
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