Toyota may be slapped with criminal charges in Canada for hiding accelerator problems from motorists even as it was trying to fix it.
The Japanese automaker recalled more than 2.3 million vehicles in the US and Canada in January to fix accelerator pedals that get stuck. Toyota executives appeared before a Canadian parliamentary panel Tuesday to explain the lapse.
According to Transport Minister John Baird, the government will ponder initiate criminal proceedings against the car giant after studying the testimony. He said action against the auto giant will be determined under the country's Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
"I can't direct the department to conduct a criminal investigation and lay criminal charges,'' minister said, adding that "if we have to raise the bar and make the law tougher with respect to disclosure, that's something we're prepared to do.''
Toyota executives reportedly admitted before the MPs that the company didn't alert vehicles users and the government about the sticky accelerator pedal as it was working to fix it.
The MPs blasted the Toyota executives for not being prompt in alerting car users about the problem.
"You've got a serious safety problem, you're already talking to your supplier about redesigning a faulty gas pedal and no one told Transport Canada ... until after a recall was issued. It was all occurring but you were telling nobody about it,'' said a ruling Conservative Party MP.
Apologizing for the 'anxiety and inconvenience' caused to car users, Yoshi Inaba, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America, said, "Nothing is more important to Toyota than the safety and reliability'' of its vehicles.
Canadians are also upset that Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda personally didn't come here to apologize as he did before Americans and Chinese.