NPR logo Toyota Chief Apologizes For 'Inconvenience'


Toyota Chief Apologizes For 'Inconvenience'

A bow and an apology. Toyoda at today's news conference. Itsuo Inouye/AP hide caption

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Itsuo Inouye/AP

A bow and an apology. Toyoda at today's news conference.

Itsuo Inouye/AP

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda is this morning taking questions about the accelerator and brake problems in some of his company's vehicles — problems that have done significant damage to Japanese car maker's reputation and market value.

As the Associated Press writes:

Toyota said this week it is considering a recall in the U.S. and Japan for its Prius gas-electric hybrid, which has been plagued with braking problems. Nearly 200 complaints have been reported in the U.S. and Japan over such problems. Toyota said on Thursday it was a problem with the antilock brake system.

The problems with the Prius, Toyota's flagship model, follow a global recall announced Jan. 21 for 4.5 million vehicles with gas pedal problems that stick and can cause sudden acceleration.

Now, the Los Angeles Times reports, "Toyota Motor Corp.'s investigation into brake problems with its Prius hybrid (has) bled over to the Prius' upscale cousin, the Lexus HS 250h hybrid. ... The mechanical parts that make up the brake system in the Lexus model are identical to those in Toyota's 2010 Prius, but the two gas-electric hybrid cars use different software systems to control the way the brakes are used, said Brian Lyons, a Toyota spokesman. Still, he said, the Lexus is now part of Toyota's investigation."

Toyoda, 53, is the grandson of the company's founder.

We'll report on what he has to say as soon as possible, so hit your "refresh" button to see our latest additions.

On Morning Edition, NPR's Chris Arnold reported about the high costs some Toyota dealers in the U.S. are confronting because of the company's troubles.

Update at 8 a.m. ET. The news conference just ended, according to The Wall Street Journal's Dispatch blog, which writes that:

It's over! They (Toyoda and company quality officer Shinichi Sasaki) bowed, as is common practice, but certainly not a bow of contrition. They practically ran out of the room to avoid being mobbed by Japanese reporters.

Update at 7:45 a.m. ET. The Wall Street Journal's Dispatch blog says the news conference is coming to a close. It reports that Shinichi Sasaki, Toyota's quality officer, said of the vehicles' troubles that "we have not tried to conceal the problem. We have been fully transparent in terms of what we have learned. There is no time lag in what we have learned and reported and disclosed."

Update at 7:29 a.m. ET. The AP reports that:

Toyoda said the automaker was still deciding what to do to fix braking problems with the popular Prius gas-electric hybrid.

Update at 7:20 a.m. ET. Japan's Kyodo News service has this summary:

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda apologized Friday for causing concern over recent massive global recalls of the automaker's top-selling models.

Update at 7:17 a.m. ET. The Wall Street Journal's Dispatch blog reports that Toyoda just said the company's "attitude is to fully cooperate" with U.S. authorities.

Update at 7:10 a.m. ET. The Associated Press reports that:

Toyota chief apologizes for safety woes, sets up committee to raise quality control.

Update at 7:05 a.m. ET. The Wall Street Journal's Dispatch blog writes that:

"A wooden-looking Akio Toyoda is reading from a script and apologizing. ... The first bow by Mr. Toyoda was a perfunctory one by Japanese standards. ... While he has apologized for 'causing an inconvenience' to customers, there has been no deep, long bow that is standard in these type of press conferences."