Section 3. Recommitment to Quality
Item 1. Expansion of Recalls
Public Hearings Held
In response to concerns about the recalls and related issues, President Akio Toyoda held a press conference in Nagoya on February 5, 2010. President Toyoda expressed his regret for the unease that some Toyota customers felt and announced the establishment of the Special Committee for Global Quality, with himself as chairman, and the immediate implementation of various initiatives focusing on verification and improvement of quality measures and reinforcement of measures in each region around the world. To show his involvement and commitment, four days after this press conference, on February 9, President Toyoda personally announced the recall mentioned above of the Prius and two other vehicle series concerning the ABS brake control system.
President Toyoda held an additional press conference on February 17 to explain the status of measures addressing the quality issues. He explained that redundant safety measures were incorporated into the electronic throttle control system and that the system was designed to limit engine output and stop the engine in the event of occurrence of any abnormal situation.
Meanwhile, interest in Toyota’s recalls and claims of unintended acceleration continued to rise in the U.S. Congress, which decided to hold public hearings and gather testimony on the situation from Toyota, federal vehicle safety officials, and individuals involved in accidents. TMS President James Lentz testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on February 23, and President Toyoda and TMA President Yoshimi Inaba testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform the following day. During the hearings, the committee members expressed concerns about Toyota vehicles, including the electronic throttle control system, and put forth a series of harsh questions and criticisms. President Toyoda and others made their best efforts to explain the facts and Toyota’s approach to its responses.
Following the hearings, President Toyoda met with representatives from dealers, North American production affiliates and suppliers, who had come to Washington from around the country, and expressed his gratitude, saying, “During the hearings, I was not alone?my colleagues from America and around the world were with me.” President Toyoda expressed his appreciation for the unceasing efforts of dealers to restore customer confidence by the ways in which they were implementing the recall remedies with the customers.
President Toyoda headed directly from the United States to China and held a press conference in Beijing on March 1. He also visited Toyota Motor Europe NV/SA on the 23rd of that month and held a press conference, where he apologized to customers for any concerns or inconvenience.
On March 2, Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada, Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki, and TMA President Inaba testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Executive Vice President Uchiyamada testified, “We do not believe sudden unintended acceleration because of a defect in our ETCS has ever happened.”
Almost a year later, the Department of Transportation announced the results of an extensive NHTSA and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) investigation of Toyota’s electronic throttle control system. They had found no evidence of an electronic defect capable of producing high-speed, unintended acceleration. The U.S. National Academy of Science (NAS) confirmed the NHTSA/NASA findings later in 2012.