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Toyota Stops Selling Lexus HS250h for Fuel Leak Risk

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker, halted sales of a hybrid Lexus model because too much fuel spilled in crash tests conducted by the government safety agency, the company said today.

Toyota, which paid a record $16.4 million U.S. fine this year for not complying with auto-safety regulations, said in a letter to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today that about 17,000 of the HS250h sedans for the 2010 model year are being recalled.

“We’re working intently to duplicate the noncompliance that NHTSA identified,” Brian Lyons, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. unit based in Torrance, California, said in an interview.

The safety agency discovered the defect during a crash test where a barrier, used to simulate a rear-end collision, strikes the bumper at about 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, causing the vehicle to rotate, Lyons said. In a second step, the vehicle is lifted off the ground, which is when the fuel leak was detected, he said.

Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, has not received any reports of accidents or injuries related to the defect, Lyons said.

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