Spartan Motors Says Its Products Not Linked to Sticky Gas Pedal Problem

The continuing revelations and deepening problems from Toyota over its sticky gas pedals
have managers at chassis maker and truck manufacturer Spartan Motors asking the question:
Could these accelerator pedals be on Spartan products? After taking a quick look, company
engineers were able to tell the managers to relax, said Joe Nowicki, CFO at Spartan. The
pedals on the chassis and trucks use commercial-grade parts and, consequently, are
completely different, according to The Elkhart (Ind.) Truth.

Based in Charlotte, Mich.,
Spartan is a supplier to several vehicle manufacturers, including the recreational vehicle
industry in Elkhart County. It also recently acquired Utilimaster, maker of walk-in vans
and commercial truck bodies, in Wakarusa. Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles in the
United States, Europe and China because of gas pedals that can become stuck, causing the
vehicles to suddenly accelerate. The situation has hurt the automaker’s reputation for
quality but Nowicki does not believe consumer doubts will bleed over to RV, commercial
truck and other vehicle manufacturers. Most of the problems and questions seem to be
centered around Toyota, he said. Customers of Spartan have not called the company with
concerns over the pedals, Nowicki said. Neither are leading motorhome makers or other
chassis manufacturers fielding any calls. Only a few have called Hino Trucks, but the
chassis manufacturer still sent out an e-mail to all its dealers and is planning to make a
global statement this coming week to quell any anxiety about its products.

Hino is part of
Toyota and is trying to expand into the RV, shuttle bus and ambulance markets. Hino trucks
are not tied to the accelerator problems because it uses a different supplier – Denso – and
a different assembly, said Glenn Ellis, Hino spokesman. “I think it’s a concern that
everybody has from a safety standpoint,” Ellis said. “We just want to be proactive and tell
everyone that it does not affect our trucks.” McCormick Motors in Nappanee, Ind., is
becoming a Hino dealer since the dealership’s long-time supplier, General Motors, has
exited the chassis business.

At a recent meeting with officials from the dealership, local
manufacturers mostly lamented the demise of their favorite GM chassis and did not question
if the Toyota problems could affect their industries, according to Gordon Moore, vice
president of McCormick. Still, as Moore goes to local shuttle bus, RV and ambulance makers
to promote the Hino chassis, he said he will be talking more about the product’s fuel
efficiency rather than Toyota’s hallmark for safety. “I think Hino will be just fine in the
market,” Moore said. “It will stand on its reputation. Will there be some questions?
Probably.” 

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