Toyota Motor Corp’s president braced for tough questions from a US congressional panel on Wednesday after the Japanese automaker conceded it had let safety standards slip and could still not explain most incidents of unintended acceleration.
The pressure was set to increase after Japan’s transport regulator said it would look into 38 reports of unintended acceleration with cars over three years, the first official probe into the issue in its home market.
President Akio Toyoda again apologised for safety issues that have led to the recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles, been blamed for at least five deaths and set off fierce criticism of both the world’s largest automaker and US regulators.
“We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organisation, and we should sincerely be mindful of that,” Toyoda said in written testimony ahead of his appearance.
On the first day of congressional hearings, Rhonda Smith, driver of a Toyota Lexus in a 2006 incident where her car reached 100 mph (160 kph), said she felt Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had dismissed her belief that the vehicle’s electronics were to blame. “Shame on you, Toyota, for being so greedy. And shame on you, NHTSA, for not doing your job,” Smith told a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Reuters