News / USA

US Lawmakers Chastise Toyota Over Recalls

Outraged U.S. lawmakers are questioning top Toyota executives about the recall of more than eight million vehicles over concerns the cars could accelerate suddenly, putting drivers and passengers in danger. Some even accuse the Japanese auto giant of ignoring the pleas of its customers to investigate problems with runaway cars.

Lawmakers wasted no time, immediately criticizing Toyota for its slow response to fears its vehicles could accelerate rapidly and without warning. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak told the House Energy and Commerce Committee his findings are troubling. "Toyota all but ignored pleas from consumers to examine sudden, unintended acceleration events. They boast in a briefing of saving Toyota $100 million by negotiating a limited recall," he said.

Lawmakers also accuse Toyota of being aware of the problems years earlier.

One Toyota owner - Rhonda Smith - says she and her husband tried to warn Toyota in October 2006, after her Toyota-made Lexus sedan sped up to 160 kilometers  an hour despite her efforts to stop it. "I figured the car was going to go at maximum speed and I was going to have to put the car into the upcoming guard rail to keep from killing anyone else. And I prayed to God to help me," she said

Then she called her husband. " I knew he could not help me but I wanted to hear his voice one more time," she said.

Then, just as suddenly as it sped up, she says the car slowed down. Smith and her husband say when they later complained to Toyota, they were called liars.

James Lentz, the head of Toyota's U.S.-based sales division says he is sorry for Toyota's initial response but the car company did its best to fix the problem, focusing on floor mats and a sticky acceleration pedal. "Nothing matters more to Toyota than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive. We are committed not only to fixing vehicles on the road and ensuring they are safe, but to making our new vehicles better and even more reliable through strict quality control, enhanced communication and a redoubled focus on putting our customers first," she said.

But David Gilbert, an associate professor of automotive technology at Southern Illinois University, says it took him less than four hours to determine the problem is with the electronic system and the computer that helps control the car. "If the circuit is defective, as far as the computer is concerned, it must be good," he said.

Some lawmakers have challenged the witness testimony but there will likely be more tough questions for Toyota Wednesday, when the company's president, Akio Toyoda, is due to testify before another house committee.

In written testimony released in advance, Toyoda tells lawmakers his name is on every car, and that they have his "personal commitment" that Toyota will work vigorously to restore the trust of its customers.


Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More