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February 04, 2010

Toyota President Apologizes for Global Recalls

by Robert Raffaele

The president of the Japanese automaker Toyota has apologized for the company's global recall of millions of vehicles due to safety issues.  Akio Toyoda  is the grandson of Toyota's founder.

Toyota's top executive, president and CEO Akio Toyoda, offered this apology to millions of Toyota drivers Friday.

"I apologize from the bottom of my heart for all the concerns that we have given to so many customers in so many countries," said Akio Toyoda.

Toyota is recalling eight million vehicles worldwide, including the Camry and Corolla sedans, due to the accelerator getting stuck to a loose floor mat, or a design flaw in the accelerator mechanism. The automaker is also facing a recall of 270,000 Prius hybrid gasoline-electric powered sedans in Japan and the United States, due to a flaw in the car's anti-lock braking system.

Toyoda stressed his company does not take the safety issues lightly.

"The people, people who drive Toyota, who care about Toyota, I'm a little bit worried about while they are driving, they feel a little bit cautious," he said. "But believe me, Toyota's car is safety."

Toyoda said his company is moving swiftly on the global recalls involving 4.5 million vehicles for sticking gas pedals, about half of them in the U.S.

He said dealers are scrambling to make repairs on the gas pedals that need a new steel part to prevent sticking.

Until now, the CEO had been largely silent about the controversy, drawing criticism from public relations experts and analysts.

Toyota says it fixed the braking problems on Prius cars shipped since last month and is deciding what to do about models sold before then.  

The automaker estimates the recalls will cost the company $2 billion in the current fiscal year ending March 31.
 
The problems have shaken confidence of investors and consumers in the Japanese auto giant.

Toyota's stock price has slumped 22 percent in recent weeks, wiping out billions of dollars from its market value.