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Toyota exec told of harder recall stance

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Toyota exec told of harder recall stance

Governor rebuffs attack on carmaker



WASHINGTON -- Toyota executives based in Washington warned the company's new U.S. chief Yoshimi Inaba last summer that federal regulators were getting tougher on vehicle recalls, according to a copy of an internal Toyota presentation obtained Thursday by the Free Press.

Excerpts of the same document were released earlier this week in which Toyota officials boasted that limits on a 2007 recall of floor mats was a $100-million "win" for the company.

During his testimony before a congressional committee Wednesday, Inaba said he did not recall the July 2009 meeting at which he received the presentation, but that the claim of saving $100 million by limiting the 2007 recall to floor mats was inconsistent with Toyota's principles.

The document also shows the Washington executives said the U.S. government's $3-billion cash-for-clunkers plan was a "conquest bill for Toyota." Early versions of the plan, under which consumers were given a government-paid incentive to turn in older vehicles with poor gas mileage for newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles would have limited sales to vehicles built in North America, giving an advantage to Detroit automakers.

Instead, Toyota sold 120,530 vehicles under the plan -- 20% of the total and more than any other automaker.

Earlier Thursday, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm reacted to anti-Toyota comments by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, a Democratic candidate for governor.

"I hope people would be angry about anybody who suggests that the Japanese businesses that we have recruited to Michigan and are employing our people" somehow aren't welcome, Granholm said.

About 1,100 employees work at the Toyota Technical Center near Ann Arbor.

Her comments came after Bernero criticized the automaker's response to complaints.

"I am not so willing to forgive and forget when American lives and American jobs are on the line," Bernero said in a statement. "It is shocking to learn about the long-standing pattern of deception by Toyota's top executives."



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