Akio Toyoda Says Toyota Has Grown Too Fast

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Toyota's CEO Akio Toyoda faced more than four hours of questioning today at a House committee investigating the recall of more than 6 million vehicles in the U.S. 

Toyoda was hoping to win back customer trust at the hearings. He said he takes full responsibility for his company's safety problems, and admitted some information about those problems was not communicated properly.

But Toyoda insisted that the automaker has not found any problems with computer systems that some suggest caused the unintended acceleration problems.

The Associated Press reports that Toyoda says he is deeply sorry for the accidents drivers have experienced, and that Toyota grew too fast to keep up with safety controls.

"We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organization," Toyoda said. "I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today."

In today's hearing, the second day of Congressional hearings focused on Toyota's safety issues, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's David Strickland and the mother of an off-duty California highway patrolmen killed in a runaway Lexus in San Diego are also expected to testify.

"In recent months, we have not lived up to the high standards our customers and the public have come to expect from Toyota," said the head of the company's U.S. operations, James Lentz, on the first day of hearings. "Put simply, it has taken us too long to come to grips with a rare but serious set of safety issues, despite all of our good faith efforts."

Lentz said the company's delayed reaction was due to poor communications within the company, with government regulators and with its customers.

UPDATE SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST POSTED: This article has been updated to reflect the second day of safety hearings on Toyota.

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