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House to hold hearing on Toyota recalls, safety issues

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House to hold hearing on Toyota recalls, safety issues

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- Congress will hold the first hearings on Toyota Motor Corp.'s recall woes next month.

House Energy and Commerce chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and subcommittee chairman Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, said the committee will hold a Feb. 25 hearing "to examine the persistent consumer complaints of sudden unintended acceleration in vehicles manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation."

"Like many consumers, I am concerned by the seriousness and scope of Toyota's recent recall announcements," Waxman said. "I look forward to learning more about the steps Toyota is taking to address safety defects, and I hope that the automaker will continue to cooperate with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get unsafe vehicles off our roads. Our hearing will help us better understand how quickly and effectively Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration responded to consumer complaints about the safety of the recalled Toyota vehicles."

Toyota said it will cooperate with Congress.

"Toyota appreciates the opportunity to inform the committee about matters related to the recent recalls of Toyota and Lexus vehicles and our efforts to address the situation for our customers," spokeswoman Martha Voss said. "Helping ensure the safety of our customers and restoring confidence in Toyota are very important to our company and we pledge our full cooperation with the committee."

The hearing will look at Toyota's recall of 5.35 million vehicles linked to pedal entrapment and last week's recall of 2.3 million vehicles linked to sticky acceleration issues. On Tuesday, Toyota stopped selling eight popular models until it can finalize a fix.

Toyota officials met with members of the committee on Wednesday.

"Incidences of sticking accelerators have been ongoing with Toyota vehicles for up to a decade, and have led to a disproportionally high number of deaths. Failure to take every step possible to prevent future deaths or injury is simply unacceptable. Our hearing will press for answers about the source of this accelerator defect and investigate whether adequate measures have been taken to ensure the safety of Toyota vehicle owners and all Americans on the road," Stupak said.

The committee said NHTSA has reported that sudden acceleration events in Toyota vehicles have led to 19 deaths in the past decade, nearly twice the number associated with similar events in cars manufactured by all other automakers combined.

Waxman and Stupak sent letters to Toyota Motor North America President Yoshimi Inaba and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland requesting additional information and documents related to Toyota vehicles sold in the U.S.

They want to know "when they first learned about potential safety defects related to sudden unintended acceleration and what actions they have taken to investigate and resolve the hazards. In addition, committee leaders requested information concerning NHTSA's investigation of consumer complaints and Toyota's response to these complaints."

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100128/AUTO01/1280489/1361/House-to-hold-hearing-on-Toyota-recalls--safety-issues#ixzz0dwzTXaDf

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