Toyota apologizes for handing of safety issues in testimony

12:39, February 24, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 


Eddie Smith and Rhonda Smith of Sevierille, Tenn, Sean Kane, President of Safety Research & Strategies Inc, and David Gilbert, associate professor of Automotive Technology, South Illinois University (L-R), testfy before the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee on Toyota's malfunctioning cars and the company's recalls, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., capital of the United States, Feb. 23, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. sales chief, James Lentz, apologized for the company's handling of safety issues in Tuesday's hearing in U.S. Congress.

"In recent months, we have not lived up to the high standards our customers and the public have come to expect from Toyota," said Lentz in his prepared testimony. "Put simply, it has taken us too long to come to grips with a rare but serious set of safety issues, despite all of our good faith efforts."

He noted that the problem has also been compounded by poor communications both within the company and with regulators and consumers.

"We acknowledge these mistakes, we apologize for them and we have learned from them," said Lentz. "We now understand that we must think differently when investigating complaints and communicate faster, better and more effectively with our customers and our regulators."

His remarks came as U.S. Congress this week launched two hearings on Toyota. On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform committee is scheduled to hold a hearing at which Toyota President Akio Toyota will testify.

On Tuesday's hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce committee, Hentz also defended that electronic problems did not contribute to sudden acceleration of its cars.

"We are confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control system in our vehicles," said the Toyota's U.S. chief. "We have designed our electronic throttle control system with multiple failsafe mechanisms to shut off or reduce engine power in the event of a system failure."

He added the company has done extensive testing of the system and "has never found a malfunction that caused unintended acceleration."


Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. sales chief, James Lentz, testifies before the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee on Toyota's malfunctioning cars and the company's recalls, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., capital of the United States, Feb. 23, 2010. James Lentz apologized for the company's handling of safety issues in Tuesday's hearing in the U.S. Congress. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

However, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the testimony that the government's investigation of Toyota includes the possibility that electric problems had a role in sudden acceleration.

"We will continue to investigate all possible causes of unintended acceleration. While the recalls are important steps in that direction, we don't maintain that they answer every question about that issue," said LaHood in his prepared testimony.

Meanwhile, Toyota president Akio Toyota acknowledged that the auto giant had stumbled badly.

"It is clear to me that in recent years we didn't listen as carefully as we should, or respond as quickly as we must, to our customers' concerns," he wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

"I pledge that Toyota will set a new standard for transparency and speed of response on safety issues," he vowed. "We also will strive to lead on advanced safety and environmental technologies."

In his prepared testimony for delivery on Wednesday's hearing, Akio Toyota also admitted the Toyota's expansion "may have been too quick," which led to the safety issues.

"Toyota has, for the past few years, been expanding its business rapidly. Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick," he said in the prepared remarks.

He again apologized for the safety problems.

"I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced," he said.

But U.S. lawmakers scoffed at Toyota's insistence that electronics were not a possible cause.

"Toyota had three response (to the more than 2,6000 complaints of runaway vehicles)," said Representative Henry Waxman, "First, blame the driver. Second, blame the floor mat. Third, blame a sticky gas pedal."

Aaron Bragman, analyst at IHS Global Insight, said that the mood of the investigative committees going into these hearings is "looking increasingly hostile towards Toyota."

Meanwhile, Toyota dealers across the United States gathered in the capital Tuesday, urging Congress to give the Japanese auto maker a fair shake and saying their livelihood depend on it.

Source: Xinhua
  • Do you have anything to say?
  • Toyota apologizes for handing of safety issues in testimony
  • Rio Group approves expansion, changes name
  • Summer heat hits Rio de Janeiro
  • 17 killed in gas explosion in Turkey's coal mine
  • Roundup: Rio Group to recruit new members,focus on Haiti
  • Holi Festival celebrated in India
http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90852/6901255.pdf