Toyoda to appear at U.S. hearings


By Liam Orlita

Akio Toyoda, president of the troubled Toyota brand, has agreed to testify at U.S. Congressional hearings next week over safety issues that have plagued the Japanese automaker of late.

“I will be happy to attend. I will speak with full sincerity,” Toyoda told reporters near the company’s headquarters in Japan on Friday.

Earlier this week, Toyoda said he would attend congressional hearings if invited, which drew heavy criticism in North America but praise from some sources in Japan.

Toyoda now said he hopes his appearance in the U.S. would quell any questions and concerns over safety issues and restate his company’s commitment to the U.S.

He says he plans on working with U.S. regulators looking into the over 8 million vehicles worldwide recalled over concerns with floor mats, accelerator pedals and software glitches.

Affected vehicles include the popular hybrid Prius, as well as the Camry and Corolla.

Japanese Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima told the Associated Press that he believes there is a need to make sure the recalls don’t cause any political friction between the U.S. and Japan. He also says it’s important for Toyoda to address the problems himself.

Toyota has suffered serious setbacks since the global recall hit the news last month. The company, once well known for its quality and safety, has seen a lot of negative press surrounding its multiple recalls both here and abroad.

According to the Associated Press, reports of deaths in the U.S. connected to sudden acceleration issues in a number of Toyota models has surged of late. Thirty-four deaths dating back to 2000 are being allegedly attributed to the problem.

- with files from The Associated Press