Toyota chief apologizes for global recalls

An apology, but no new recall

Published February 5, 2010 1:26PM (EST)

Toyota's president apologized Friday for the massive global recalls over sticking gas pedals as the automaker scrambles to repair a damaged reputation and sliding sales.

But Akio Toyoda, also Toyota's CEO, said the automaker is still deciding what steps to take to fix brake problems in the popular Prius gas-electric hybrid.

Speaking at a hastily announced news conference, a stern-looking Toyoda promised to beef up quality control.

He said the company is setting up a special committee he would head himself.

It would review internal checks, go over consumer complaints and listen to outside experts to come up with a solution to the widening quality problems.

"I offer my apologies for the worries," he said in Japanese. "Many customers are wondering whether their cars are OK."

Toyoda said the company was moving quickly on the global recalls covering 4.5 million vehicles for sticking gas pedals, about half of them in the U.S.

Dealers are scrambling to make repairs on the gas pedals that need a new steel part to prevent sticking, he said.

"Please believe me. We always put customers first," he said, when asked by a reporter to speak in English.

He said a decision on what to do about the Prius braking problem will be reached as soon as possible. The automaker said this week a recall was being considered.

Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota's founder, who took office last year, has been criticized for not coming out sooner to answer questions about the flood of quality problems that have hit Toyota.

The news conference at the company's headquarters in Nagoya, Japan was shown at Toyota's Tokyo office by a satellite feed.

By Yuri Kageyama

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