WASHINGTON — Under blistering criticism, Toyota president Akio Toyoda personally and repeatedly apologized to Congress and millions of anxious American car-owners Wednesday for deadly defects in popular models produced by his Japanese company. Angry lawmakers forcefully declared it was hardly enough.
"Where is the remorse?" scolded Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. And Republican John Mica of Florida held aloft what he called an "absolutely appalling" Toyota report bragging of defusing a safety investigation.
Toyoda's testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee got off to an agreeable start. He promised to tell the truth and gave an opening statement in clear, if heavily accented, English.
"My name is on every car. You have my personal commitment that Toyota will work vigorously and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers," he said.
As the questioning intensified, Toyoda chose to answer all questions in Japanese. He brought a translator with him.
Federal safety officials have received reports linking 34 deaths in the United States to safety defects in Toyota cars and trucks over the past decade.
Toyoda, 53, said he was "absolutely confident" the causes of runaway acceleration were mechanical, and not a design flaw in the company's electronic throttle control system. He also said new systems to allow brakes to override gas pedals were being put on new models.