Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Yamaha Motor Corp. USA suspended sales of its Rhino off-road vehicles and launched a repair program after the Consumer Product Safety Commission determined that they had been involved in more than 50 accidents resulting in 46 deaths and hundreds of injuries. About 145,000 Rhinos have been sold since the two-seat “side-by-side” vehicle, which looks like a small dune buggy, was introduced in 2003. Yamaha will make free repairs on Rhino 450, 660 and 700 models that will make them safer and less prone to rolling over, the commission said in a statement released in cooperation with Cypress-based Yamaha, the U.S. arm of the Japanese manufacturer.

The CPSC is advising Rhino owners to stop using them until they have been repaired, Holmes said. Yamaha isn’t scrapping the popular line, however; Rhino vehicles will

return to showrooms after repairs have been made, he said. The recall and repair program is a victory for those who’ve lost family or friends in Rhino accidents, said Heidi Crow, whose 9-year-old son, Jeremy Todd, known as J.T., died in a Rhino rollover accident June 22, 2007.