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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

NHTSA investigates Toyota

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NHTSA investigates Toyota

U.S. reviews hundreds of reports, including 34 deaths from alleged acceleration cases

David Shepardson and Robert Snell / The Detroit News

Washington -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it was quickly investigating hundreds of new complaints about recalled Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles, as the automaker sought to contain the fallout on several fronts.

NHTSA reported that it has now received complaints alleging 34 deaths linked to sudden unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles since 2000.

Government records also show nearly 1,000 new braking complaints about the recalled Toyota Prius in recent weeks.

"NHTSA is working quickly to review the surge in consumer complaints resulting from the recall announcements," Transportation Department spokeswoman Olivia Alair said. "Staff are currently gathering preliminary information to determine what next steps are needed."Since Jan. 27, NHTSA has received complaints of 13 more deaths and 10 injuries in U.S. crashes since 2005 that allege the cause is sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. Previously, NHTSA had received 17 complaints against Toyota vehicles involving 21 deaths between 2000 and 2009.

At a meeting with dealers in Florida on Monday, Toyota tried to calm fears as it reported that more than 500,000 recalled vehicles have been repaired.

The automaker also said it is considering increasing incentives or extending warranties as part of its response to the recalls, which have made some consumers wary of Toyota products.

Last week, Toyota recalled 437,000 Priuses and other hybrids worldwide over concerns the brakes could lose power over bumpy or icy terrain. The automaker has announced a software upgrade to address that problem.

Toyota also has recalled 2.3 million vehicles in the United States to fix sticky gas pedals and 5.4 million because the pedal can be trapped by a floor mat. About 8,000 Tacoma pickups were called back because of a possible propeller shaft crack that could cause a driver to lose control.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda will brief reporters in Japan on Wednesday and is expected to announce more safety and quality initiatives -- including public notification of vehicle improvements. Toyota was criticized for not disclosing it had upgraded the software in the Prius in January to address braking issues.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100216/AUTO01/2160327/1148/NHTSA-investigates-Toyota#ixzz0fhncMHGt

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Toyota was criticized for not disclosing it had upgraded the software in the Prius in January to address braking issues.

Toyota's ongoing philosophy of, 'Shh, it never happened.'

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