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Toyota to recall almost 2m vehicles

TOKYO, Jan 26 – Toyota Motor is to recall nearly 1.7 million vehicles worldwide including 1.2 million in Japan and 421,000 overseas over a fuel leak risk, the automaker and the Transport Ministry said on Wednesday.

Toyota and the ministry said the recalls include around 245,000 of its luxury Lexus vehicles in the United States and 74,590 Lexus, Crown and other cars in Japan over other leakage fears.

In Japan 19 models produced between 2000 and 2009 will be affected by the recall, the ministry said.

"Slight cracks may appear on the engine fuel pipes. If it continues to be used, the crack may be widened and there may be risks of fuel leakage," the ministry said in a statement.

There have been more than 140 cases reported in Japan, with no accidents, it said.

In 2008 Toyota ended General Motors\’ 77-year reign as the world\’s largest automaker but the road has been a bumpy one for the Japanese giant, facing the impact of the economic crisis, recalls and recently a strong yen.

In the past year the automaker has pulled millions of vehicles worldwide over a range of issues following a safety crisis involving brake and accelerator defects that has tarnished its once stellar reputation.

Toyota shares tumbled 1.7 percent following news of the recall.

On Monday Toyota said its group sales in 2010 rose, enabling the firm to narrowly retain its title as the world\’s biggest automaker despite the global safety crisis.

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Toyota\’s global sales rose eight percent year-on-year to 8.418 million vehicles last year, narrowly beating the 8.39 million sold by a resurgent General Motors.

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