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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Deadly Floormat!!!

Let's see how will he rectifies this issue...erm..i wonder what had gone wrong..??

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Toyota chiefs blame rapid rise, admit recalls insufficient

Toyota chiefs blame rapid rise, admit recalls insufficient

Under fire from angry US lawmakers, Toyota chiefs admitted Tuesday that massive recalls had "not totally" addressed acceleration problems and blamed their safety woes on the company's rapid rise to world number one automaker.

In contrite remarks to be delivered in front of a congressional committee in Washington Wednesday, the Japanese auto giant's embattled president Akio Toyoda said his company's "too quick" growth had outstripped safety needs.

"I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced," Toyoda said in prepared remarks obtained by AFP.

Toyoda was to appear Wednesday before one of three congressional committees looking into how the company and US regulators responded to sudden, unintended acceleration blamed for 30 US deaths, as well as braking and steering problems.

Text of Toyota chief's prepared testimony to US Congress

James Lentz, who heads Toyota Motor Sales USA, appeared before a committee on Tuesday and denied that malfunctioning electronics were responsible for causing the sudden and potentially deadly spikes in speed.

But he acknowledged that recalls for sticky pedals and others that can be blocked by floormats would "not totally" solve the sudden unintended acceleration problem and said Toyota had not wholly dismissed electronic flaws.

"We continue to be vigilant and continue to investigate all of the complaints that we get from consumers that we have done a relatively poor job of doing in the past," he told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Toyota's vows of stepped up quality control and better recalls did nothing to soothe the anger of Rhonda Smith, who held the House Energy and Commerce Committee spellbound with a harrowing tale of her uncontrollable Lexus.

As the luxury automobile ripped forward on a highway at over 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour, the Tennessee woman's voice quivered as she described her fear that she would die as she called her husband Eddie at work.

"I knew he could not help me, but I wanted to hear his voice one more time," said Smith, who accused Toyota and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of ignoring her subsequent pleas to fix the problem.

"Shame on you, Toyota, for being so greedy. And shame on you, NHTSA, for not doing your job," she said.

More on Smith's emotional testimony

Toyoda, due to speak to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, ruefully acknowledged in prepared testimony that: "Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick."

In another blow to the company, an automotive technology professor, David Gilbert, told the panel that he had found a possible electronic culprit in just three and a half hours for next to no money.

Lentz cast doubt on those findings, saying "it just seems a little good to be true" that he would succeed where Toyota's experts had failed.

"Maybe they didn't ask the right questions," said Gilbert.

Toyota has pulled more than eight million vehicles off the roads over accelerator and brake problems and faces class-action lawsuits potentially costing billions of dollars.

Timeline of Toyota's global recall crisis

A qualified test driver, Toyoda talked of his personal pain at the problems confronting the Japanese giant, founded by his grandfather and now embroiled in the worst crisis of its 70-year history.

"For me when the cars are damaged, it is as though I am as well. I, more than anyone, wish for Toyota's cars to be safe and for our customers to feel safe when they use our vehicles," his testimony said.

Toyoda said a new quality advisory group of experts including from the United States would be set up to avoid future mistakes.

Facts and figures on Toyota recall

Lentz admitted the company erred in its handling of two causes of sudden acceleration: pedals that "stick" when depressed and others jammed by floormats.

"We acknowledge these mistakes, we apologize for them and we have learned from them."

Lentz stuck to Toyota's position that the acceleration problems were not tied to defects in the automaker's electronic throttle systems.

But a key committee member, Democratic Representative Bart Stupak, accused Toyota of relying on a "flawed" study to dismiss the electronic problem and misleading the public about the causes.

Toyota, which last year dethroned General Motors as the world's top automaker, is fighting to maintain its once stellar reputation for quality, safety and reliability.

This week's hearings come as the auto giant answers a request for documents from US federal grand jury investigating whether there is sufficient evidence for criminal charges related to the defects.

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