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Lawmakers scorn Toyota chief's apology

Toyota president and CEO Akio Toyoda testifies Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the automaker’s handling of sticking gas pedal problems.

Associated Press

Toyota president and CEO Akio Toyoda testifies Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the automaker’s handling of sticking gas pedal problems.

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.

U.S. employees gather in support

Two hundred of Toyota's American employees maintained a vigil in Congress to show support for their Japanese employers. The fallout from Toyota's recalls and the bad publicity have affected Toyota sales, and the company and its dealers have been forced to lay off U.S. workers at a time when millions of Americans are already jobless and the national unemployment rate sits near a 27-year high. The company has invested billions in U.S. factories and Toyota is directly or indirectly responsible for more than 170,000 jobs in the U.S.

Lawmakers scorn Toyota chief's apology 02/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 10:55pm]
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