Toyota chief Akio Toyoda 'deeply sorry' for safety problems
The head of Toyota's global operations is promising to do everything in his power to make sure safety problems do not result in another death.
Akio Toyoda, a grandson of the automaker's founder, told members of the U.S. Congress Wednesday he is "deeply sorry for any accident" that Toyota drivers have experienced.
He said the company's rapid growth caused its priorities to, in his words, "become confused," and said new emphasis would be placed on customer concerns.
Lawmakers have been holding a second day of hearings on whether Toyota ignored complaints that some of its cars accelerated on their own, putting the lives of drivers and passengers at risk.
Toyoda said the company never runs away from its problems.
Still, lawmakers opened Wednesday's hearing with harsh words for the Japanese automaker, blaming its problems for 39 deaths.
Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Representative Edolphus Towns said if the cars were treated the same as airplanes, in his words, "they would be grounded."
Toyota has recalled more than eight million vehicles for inspections and possible repairs.
On Wednesday, the carmaker reached an agreement with the northeastern U.S. state of New York. Under the terms of the deal, Toyota will pay to transport recalled vehicles to Toyota dealerships and provide free rental cars to affected customers.
New York officials say the agreement covers about 500,000 vehicles.
Yoshimi Inaba, the president and chairman of Toyota Motors North America, told lawmakers that Toyota dealerships across the U.S. are offering the same services to worried customers.
Inaba also said that Toyota rigorously tested its fixes for the recalled vehicles and was confident the repairs would help make Toyota vehicles among the safest on the road.
Toyota blames the unintended acceleration problems on floor mats and on problems with the acceleration pedal. But many lawmakers cited reports by experts who believe the problems are caused by faulty electronics.
On Tuesday, the chief executive of Toyota's operations in the United States, James Lentz, said the company has been unable to find any electrical-system malfunction. But he admitted that the recalls may not solve the problem.
Toyota says it has shared all of its information with U.S. safety regulators.VOA News