• Jan 29, 2010
What's that, a scandal?!?!?! Time for everyone and their mother's legislator to seek the spotlight at Toyota's expense. This time it's House Representative Ed Towns, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He's scheduled a hearing on Toyota's current recall for defective accelerator pedal mechanisms for February 4th, the second hearing scheduled so far after the House Energy and Commerce Committee scheduled a separate hearing yesterday for February 25th.

This time, however, it's not so much Toyota on the hot seat as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Towns sent an invitation for the hearing to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today that details exactly what the committee wants discussed. Included are:
  • What is the scope of DOT's investigation into this matter and what are the preliminary findings?
  • What makes and models does DOT currently believe have a gas pedal problem and what are its possible causes?
  • If consumers are driving any of the recalled models, what steps should they be taking to ensure their safety?
  • What steps are DOT and Toyota taking to alert consumers that this problem may affect a vehicle they are currently using?
  • What steps are being taken to ensure that the problem is being corrected?
There are many unanswered questions surrounding this recall, some of which may be answered in either or both of these hearings. In the meantime, shares of Toyota Motor Company continue to fall in the wake of the recall, some 16.7 percent over the last five days.

UPDATE: The hearing has been moved to February 10th.

[Sources: The Detroit News, Automotive News - sub. req. | Image: Mark Wilson/Getty]
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Chairman Towns Announces Hearing on Federal Government Response to Malfunctioning Toyota Gas Pedals

WASHINGTON – Chairman Edolphus "Ed" Towns (D-NY) announced that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing next week titled, "Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public At Risk?", to better understand the Federal government's response to the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles due to reports of malfunctioning gas pedals. Chairman Towns is also looking into the problem due to widespread public concerns and indication that the problem may not be limited to Toyota.

"There appears to be growing public confusion regarding which [Toyota] vehicles may be affected and how people should respond. In short, the public is unsure as to what exactly the problem is, whether it is safe to drive their cars, or what they should do about it," said Chairman Towns.

Chairman Towns has invited Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to testify during the hearing that will be held on Thursday, February 4, 2010. More information on the hearing to come.

Chairman Towns' letter to Secretary LaHood is below.

###

January 28, 2010

The Honorable Raymond H. LaHood
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

As you know, there is widespread public concern regarding reports of malfunctioning gas pedals in Toyota motor vehicles. Toyota has recalled millions of its vehicles and even halted production. In addition, there are reports that this problem may have been the direct cause of serious injury and even death. Moreover, there is some indication that the problem may not be limited to Toyota.

There appears to be growing public confusion regarding which vehicles may be affected and how people should respond. In short, the public is unsure as to what exactly the problem is, whether it is safe to drive their cars, or what they should do about it.

To help clarify this situation and to better understand the federal government's response to the problem, I am inviting you to testify at a hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Thursday, February 4, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

Among the issues we would like you to address are the following:

What is the scope of DOT's investigation into this matter and what are the preliminary findings?

What makes and models does DOT currently believe have a gas pedal problem and what are its possible causes?

If consumers are driving any of the recalled models, what steps should they be taking to ensure their safety?

What steps are DOT and Toyota taking to alert consumers that this problem may affect a vehicle they are currently using?

What steps are being taken to ensure that the problem is being corrected?

You may submit written testimony for the record, of any reasonable length. In addition to your written testimony, you should be prepared to provide a five minute opening statement and answer questions posed by Members of the Committee.

Information for witnesses appearing before the Committee is contained in the enclosed Witness Information Sheet. In particular, please note the procedures for submitting written testimony at least two business days prior to the hearing.

We ask that you please contact the Committee by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, February 1, 2010, to confirm your attendance. Should you have any questions, please contact John Arlington or Steven Rangel of the Committee staff at 202-225-5051.

Sincerely,
Edolphus Towns
Chairman


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota will says : "There is absolutely no evidence. not my fault"
        • 4 Years Ago
        Toyota try to lay all the blame on...
        "Driver error, floor mats, CTS made pedal"
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess this is the FEW times where our government is doing something right and making sure they are looking out for people / having government bureacracy and corporation accountable for citizen's safety. And those who own stock at Toyota, I'd really encourage you to invest in Ford... My life savings increased by a double digit percentage by it. Or if you want to really invest in a foreign company, Hyundai-Kia or Subaru isn't too shabby.

      • 4 Years Ago
      The nightmare continues.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not a Toyota fan by any means, but doesn't congress have much more pressing issues on its plate?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Anything that diverts their attention from all the other issues their screwing up is just fine.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This whole Toyota recall thing reminded me of the following quotes from the movie Fight Club (1999).

      Narrator: Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

      Business woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?

      Narrator: You wouldn't believe.

      Business woman on plane: Which car company do you work for?

      Narrator: A major one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        He inspected the charred remains of a Lincoln Town Car, so I guess he worked for Ford (in the movie version anyway)
      • 4 Years Ago
      I came in here fully expecting at least one comment to read something like

      "This is obviously a secret socialist government plot. Obama wants Government Motors to succeed, and so now they're going after the companies Americans trust most."

      but then again, maybe I just haven't given it enough time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder if they'll demand a sales stop on Lexus now?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just an fyi, It's not so much that some of us "appear" to hate this company, but some folks - James Healy (the car guy on USA Today), Consumer Reports, and a bunch of other tout Toyota as the end all beat all of the automotive world. They write about this company's products as the if they were the epitome of what is the best.

      Now they are falling and falling fast. I just find it ironic and amusing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hmm.. seems every politician is going to try to cash in on this for their upcoming elections. I agree that part of it is for public saftey but lets be real most of them are all thinking "This will look good when I run for re-election later.".

      Though to be honest I am curious about the whole NHSTA. The previous post about a second or shorter just after one of their own was hired by Toyota is yeah a bit odd.

      I said this in another post but Toyoda must be banging his head on the desk over in Japan right now over this.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Between a Toyota with a defective accelerator pedal and our congress.... I'll take my chances in the Toyota any day.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Kick em' while they're down!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Kick em' while they're down?

        I agree, GM, Chrysler and Ford are pretty down.
        They are ready for the 2nd bankruptcy and more bailout!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        So madtuscan is Matthew under yet another account?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Madtuscan, You, without question are the dumbest to ever grace AB.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is going to get interesting if reports that Toyota has been aware of the problem for some time are true.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It'll get even more interesting if it's revealed the NHTSA knew about the issue beforehand and did nothing...
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