Lawmakers of both parties criticize both Toyota and US safety regulators for safety lapses

By Stephen Manning, AP
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Toyota PM | Strange Vehicles

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Toyota CEO apologizes for recall, accidents

WASHINGTON — Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda raised his right hand and promised to tell the truth. Then, speaking in English, he apologized to Congress — and millions of American Toyota owners — for safety lapses that led to deaths and widespread recalls for accelerator and braking failures.

“I’m deeply sorry for any accident that Toyota drivers have experienced,” said the grandson of the founder of the world’s largest automaker.

Amid a phalanx of cameras, Toyoda, dressed in a dark suit, walked into the committee room briskly.

House committee chairman Edolphus Towns welcomed Toyoda and thanked him for volunteering to testify.

“We’re very impressed with that. It shows your commitment to safety as well,” Towns said.

Toyoda 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, he said.

He suggested his company’s “priorities became confused” in its quest for growth over the past decade at the expense of safety concerns.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Toyota chief executive Akio Toyoda raised his hand and took an oath to tell the truth, then speaking in English apologized to Congress — and millions of American Toyota owners — for safety lapses that led to deaths and widespread recalls for accelerator and braking failures.

“I’m deepy sorry for any accident that Toyota drviers have experienced,” said the grandson of the founder of the world’s largest automaker.

Amid a phalanx of cameras, Toyoda, dressed in a dark suit, came into the committee room briskly.

Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns welcomed Toyoda and thanked him for volunteering to testify.

“We’re very impressed with that. It shows your commitment to safety as well,” Towns said.

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

He suggested his company’s “priorities became confused” in its quest for growth over the last decade at the expense of safety concerns.

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