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Toyota President Apologizes for Global Recalls

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Toyota President Apologizes for Global Recalls

TOKYO (Feb. 5) -- Toyota's president apologized Friday for the massive global recalls over sticking gas pedals as the automaker scrambles to repair a damaged reputation and sliding sales.

But Akio Toyoda, also Toyota's CEO, said the automaker is still deciding what steps to take to fix brake problems in the popular Prius gas-electric hybrid.

Speaking at a hastily announced news conference, a stern-looking Toyoda promised to beef up quality control.

He said the company is setting up a special committee he would head himself.

It would review internal checks, go over consumer complaints and listen to outside experts to come up with a solution to the widening quality problems.

"I offer my apologies for the worries," he said in Japanese. "Many customers are wondering whether their cars are OK."

Toyoda said the company was moving quickly on the global recalls covering 4.5 million vehicles for sticking gas pedals, about half of them in the U.S.

Dealers are scrambling to make repairs on the gas pedals that need a new steel part to prevent sticking, he said.

"Please believe me. We always put customers first," he said, when asked by a reporter to speak in English.

He said a decision on what to do about the Prius braking problem will be reached as soon as possible. The automaker said this week a recall was being considered.

Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota's founder, who took office last year, has been criticized for not coming out sooner to answer questions about the flood of quality problems that have hit Toyota.

The news conference at the company's headquarters in Nagoya, Japan was shown at Toyota's Tokyo office by a satellite feed.



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Toyota President apologizes... again, calls situation a "crisis"

Fifteen days after Toyota announced a recall of 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. for sticking accelerator pedals, the company's president and grandson of its founder made a formal apology at an evening news conference in Japan on Friday night (early morning EST). Akio Toyoda has been largely silent during the last two weeks as his company struggles to contain the fallout from recalls affecting over nine million vehicles on multiple continents. The only other time he's spoken on record was during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last Friday when he told a Japanese interviewer, "I am deeply sorry." What's the reason for today's remarks? Toyoda told the audience of press, ""I came out here today because I would not want our customers to spend the weekend wondering whether their cars are safe."

The company president also announced that a committee would be created to look at Toyota's quality issues and address them going forward, something his predecessor, Katsuake Watanabe, also did back in 2006. Finally, in regards to braking issues with the 2010 Prius revealed yesterday, Toyoda said the company would soon announce how it plans to address them. Despite reports coming out of Japan to the contrary, there has been no official confirmation from Toyota that the new Prius will be recalled. Both the Japanese and U.S. governments have also opened investigations on the Prius and Toyota has pledged its cooperation.

We also learned yesterday of brake issues in the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid after Consumer Reports experienced a sudden loss of braking power in a Fusion Hybrid and contacted the automaker. The issue sounds similar to what some owners are experiencing in the 2010 Prius, though we've only heard of this one instance and Ford has already responded with a TSB to repair the issue with a software upgrade.


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