Wed, February 24, 2010
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Toyota chief apologizes and vows to cooperate with regulators for massive recall

2010-02-24 23:25:31 GMT2010-02-25 07:25:31 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda (C) testifies at a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Feb. 24, 2010. Akio Toyoda apologized Wednesday before a U.S. Congress committee investigating Toyota's deadly flaws that sparked the recall of 8.5 million cars.(Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda (C) testifies at a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Feb. 24, 2010. Akio Toyoda apologized Wednesday before a U.S. Congress committee investigating Toyota's deadly flaws that sparked the recall of 8.5 million cars.(Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Toyota President Akio Toyoda said here on Wednesday at a U.S. Congressional hearing that he took "full responsibility" for the massive recall of Toyota cars due to quality defects, and apologized for that.

APOLOGIZE AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

After being pressed by the U.S. Congressmen and the public audience in recent days, the grandson of the founder of the world' s largest automaker apologized before the U.S. lawmakers.

"I'm deeply sorry for any accident that Toyota drivers have experienced," Toyoda said at the hearing.

"I sincerely regret that some people actually encountered accidents in their vehicles," he added.

He acknowledged before the U.S. lawmakers that the Japanese automaker's quality control is not flawless. "I myself, as well as Toyota, am not perfect."

The 53-year-old Toyota chief said that "I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick. I would like to point out here that Toyota's priority has traditionally been the following: First; Safety, Second; Quality, and Third; Volume."

"These priorities became confused, and we were not able to stop, think, and make improvements as much as we were able to before, and our basic stance to listen to customers' voices to make better products has weakened somewhat."

Toyoda's testimony on Wednesday afternoon is in a series of hearings organized by the U.S. Congress to investigate the auto company's massive recall.

Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation testified before the lawmakers this morning to explain the regulator's role about the Toyota recall.

In a hearing on Tuesday, Toyota's U.S. sales chief, James Lentz, apologized for the company's handling of safety issues.

Toyoda at first declined to appear before the panel but acquiesced last week when he was officially invited.

Toyota has recalled 8.5 million vehicles, mostly to fix problems with floor mats trapping gas pedals or with pedals getting stuck.

PLAN TO MAKE IMPROVEMENT

Toyoda's slow response to the massive recall was widely criticized these days. Analysts said that the world's top automaker tried to make Wednesday's hearing an opportunity to regain its reputation.

Toyoda said that Toyota has been fully cooperating and sharing all information with the authority in the safety probe triggered by the massive recall.

He pledged his company would change the way it handles consumer complaints, including seeking greater input from drivers and outside safety experts when considering recalls. Toyota managers will also drive cars under investigation to experience potential problems first hand.

Toyoda told U.S. Congressmen that he was "absolutely confident" there was no problem with the electronics of Toyota vehicles and repeated the company's stance that sudden accelerations were caused by either a sticking gas pedal or a misplaced floor mat. Some outside experts have suggested electronics may be at the root of the problems.

Toyoda said that with whatever results we obtain from the investigations we are conducting in cooperation with U.S. authority, "I intend to further improve on the quality of Toyota vehicles and fulfill our principle of putting the customer first."

"My name is on every car. You have my personal commitment that Toyota will work vigorously and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers," he said.

In a separate statement released Wednesday, Toyota Company said that it will provide additional services to U.S. customers affected by recent recalls.

U.S. House Representative John Mica said it was a "very embarrassing day" for Toyota and for U.S. highway safety regulators. He said he was equally embarrassed for U.S. Toyota dealers and for the thousands of hardworking Americans in "Toyota plants across the country."

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