NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Roughly 700,000 Toyota (TM) - Get Report vehicles have been recalled because of the Takata (TKTDF) air-bag issue. But as Robert Carter, Toyota's senior vice president of automotive operations, explained to TheStreet TV, the automaker already began recalling its own vehicles for that issue as early as April 2013.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Carter told TheStreet's Ruben Ramirez that vehicles in high humidity environments tend to be at more risk for Takata's faulty air-bag inflators -- a product that is affecting other large automakers such as Ford (F) - Get Report , General Motors (GM) - Get Report and Honda (HMC) - Get Report .
Toyota is working with Takata and other suppliers to get high-quality inflators to customers.
Carter also spoke about hydrogen fuel cells. Toyota plans to launch its hydrogen fuel cell car in the fall of 2015, and is working with the state of California and private parties to build the required infrastructure.
The vehicle takes only three to five minutes to fill and has a range of about 300 miles, while the only emission is water vapor. Toyota is also working on an off-board generation system that would allow the car to power a customer's home for up to a week, should he lose power, Carter explained.
Carter acknowledged that building the required infrastructure will take a while and said that the industry is at a "turning point" with the new fuel. "I think it's the way of the future," he said of hydrogen fuel-cell cars.
Shifting gears, he said that "it's a wonderful time to buy in the car business," in regards to the overall auto market. U.S. auto sales have done well in 2014, and Toyota expects to sell about 2.3 million vehicles with its three brands, Toyota, Lexus and Scion.
That's 100,000 more vehicles than it sold in 2013, Carter added. The gain is being driven by strong Highlander and RAV4 sports-utility vehicle sales.
Demand has been so strong, the company has invested more money in its plant in Indiana that produces the Highlander. The move will boost production and add 400 additional jobs to the area, Carter concluded.
-- Written by Bret Kenwell
TheStreet Ratings team rates TOYOTA MOTOR CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate TOYOTA MOTOR CORP (TM) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: TM Ratings Report