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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid