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February 16, 2010

Toyota President to Skip Testifying Before US Lawmakers

The president of Japanese automaker Toyota says he will not appear before a U.S. congressional panel investigating the company's recent safety-related lapses.

Akio Toyoda told reporters Wednesday the company's North American-based executives will be able to answer lawmaker's questions at the hearings, which are scheduled for next week.  He says he wants to focus on improving quality standards.

The automaker issued a global recall of more than eight million vehicles because of two separate issues involving unintended acceleration.  

Toyoda says the company will install an override system in all future models to cut engine power if the accelerator and brake pedals are applied at the same time.

Meanwhile, Toyota quality chief Shinichi Sasaki says the car maker is prepared to issue a recall of its Corolla sedan over possible problems with its power-steering system.  

U.S. safety regulators say they want to know if Toyota acted promptly to correct the safety problems in its vehicles.  The Department of Transportation is is demanding documents about sticking accelerator pedals and other issues.  

In addition to the acceleration problems, Toyota is also recalling more than 400,000 gasoline-electric powered hybrid vehicles, including its popular Prius model because of braking problems.

The automaker is halting production at two U.S. factories for a few days in March and April to keep from making more cars than can be sold.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.