• Feb 1st 2010 at 8:27AM
  • 54
Toyota President and COO Jim Lentz on Today Show – Click above to watch video after the jump

Right after Toyota officially announced a remedy for its sticking accelerator pedals this morning, company President and COO Jim Lentz could be seen on television sitting across from Matt Lauer on NBC's popular Today Show. While Lauer isn't typically a hard-hitting interviewer (Is he? We don't regularly watch the show, but "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" has us thinking he's no Edward R. Murrow), he does kick things off by asking Lentz if he can guarantee one particular Toyota customer whose car has already experienced sudden unintended acceleration that her car will be safe. From there, Lentz gives the answers you'd expect any exec under siege to give, which is to say we don't learn much that we don't already know. Lentz does say that "...we're confident that... between those two things [the floormat and pedal recalls], this will be under control."

He also claims that the first time Toyota became aware of sticking pedals in its vehicles, or at least the first time that the company could duplicate the sticking pedal problem, was October of last year. Like a good interviewer, Lauer brings up the Los Angeles Times article that contends Toyota knew about the issue long before then. Follow the jump to see how Lentz reacts.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      No one would even of any danger to their vehicles if the news never broke out! Now suddenly everyone is scared to drive their Toyota's? Give me a break, if the car goes too quick you press the brakes! Common sense! Plain and simple! Everyone has done their driving tests right? Bottom line is which cars would have more problems in the long run, Toyota or Ford & GM?

      I know my pick...TOYOTA all the way!!!!!!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      If the domestics can't gobble up market share at a time like this, then they don't deserve to exist.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I see Ford, Honda and Hyundai eating Toyota's lunch.
        • 5 Years Ago
        p.s. Don't cry about the Mercury numbers, GM's dying brands outsold Mercury.
        • 5 Years Ago
        totally agreed xcrunk
        • 5 Years Ago
        this is the top selling cars of 2009


        Notice how even the Escape outsold the Malibu? I guess GM must've done alot of fleet dumping in December to make up for all those dying brands that Avis no longer wants cars from.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ion: Take a look at the Impala's numbers. The Impala is the Malibu's biggest obstacle. I personally know of at least three people that went in to buy a Malibu, drove and liked the car, but left with an Impala because the price was right.

        The Malibu and Impala combined sold 327,133 units. I'm sure GM is really sour about that.

        The Escape is a very different animal. It has become the successor to the Crown Vic for Taxi services nationwide. The Hybrid version doesn't hurt either.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I'll be honest here. I'm a GM fan. I always have been and always will be. It's not that I have anything against Japan. I have a Yamaha sport bike. It's great. Toyota makes cars that are in my opinion bland and uninspired. GM had issues with quality for a while so did Ford and in my Opinion Dodge still does. GM and Ford have come a long way and make great cars today. People love to take shots at them without even trying them for themselves. They assume Toyotas are perfect and American cars are junk. Well newsflash Toyotas have problems too. The difference is they often get buried. Toyota knew about this problem for a long time. They made the wrong decision to get the NHTSB to limit their investigation and now it blew up in their face. While their quality is slipping their competitors is getting better. No one will doubt that Toyotas resale values just took a huge hit and likely wont recover any time soon. I love that GM and Ford are taking advantage of the situation to get people into their cars. It's not like Toyota hasn't done the same in the past. It's good to see the playing field leveled.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Then explain why Ford issued a recall in October of 2009 affecting cars 2003 and older possible engine compartment fires?

        And don't kid yourself trying to believe domestic cars are of great quality now. In some cases, yes, but try telling that to my neighbor who had his 20k mile powertrain replaced in a 2008 Saturn Outlook, windshield wipers failing on him in heavy rain, or electronics not working in the cold in my co-worker's 2009 Chevy Malibu?

        Don't get me wrong, I like the direction Ford and GM are going, but you are dead wrong if you think that means Toyotas are junk this day in age.
        • 5 Years Ago
        First I never said Toyotas were junk don't put your words for them in my mouth. Second referencing a recall on 2003 and older Fords when it's 2010 doesn't speak to current quality levels. It's been 7+ years. 2009 Honda Fits were just recalled for window electronics setting cars on fire. I have a brand new 2010 Camaro and I can say the build quality is excellent. I never had any issues with my 2005 CTS, and I've had my 99 GMC Sonoma since new and again 11 years later all it's ever needed was regular maintenance. I'm sorry that your neighbor and friend have had bad experiences. I could list several people that have had issues with imports but my point wasn't to get into a pissing match with someone. My point is that the Japanese cars are no better. Their's a reason why people will only buy a Ford,GM, or Dodge truck. The Majority of people that buy import trucks don't really need them. Thats why their sales all tanked when gas prices spiked. Tundras that are 2 years old and have completely rusted frames! Come on. Don't kid yourself they aren't as great as you'd like to think.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're wasting your time, Mact. Toyota is not sending out thank you cards to people that try to help save their tarnished reputation. You're just gonna have to find another way to try and save the resale value on that garbage can Sienna. Or is it a Windstar? Gosh! You tell us about a different car you have every other week.
        You know a guy with a bad Outlook.....................and you know a guy with a bad Malibu......................sure you do.
        You sound like Brian more and more each day.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh No!!! It's Edward R. MURROW
      • 5 Years Ago
      It will be very devastating to Toyota is if we find these cases of unintended acceleration continue after all of these fixes are in place. In other words, we find out it is the DME fault after all.
      • 5 Years Ago

      The thing is, people seem to be complaining about issues that are electronic. I don't think this will be the end of this. And Lentz gave a nervous interview. Not a good sign if you are looking for reassurance.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wish Toyota well. I hope they can recover from this and gain back the trust of their customers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If Ford, GM, BMW, or even Hyundai came out and "apologized". They still be kicked to the ground and the butt of every joke.

      Toyota knows their customers, saying sorry does nothing for [future] performance and does nothing for defective cars today (considering it's a problem in their new designs, not just a faulty wear and tear item). Funny thing, is their customer base: loyal drivers of Priuses, Corollas, and Camrys (think about the type of people that drive those cars) will likely buy the "I'm sorry" marketing stunt--which to Toyota is cheap cash to stop the bleeding.

      Look at Honda, they are having problems too (power window fire) and have been showing "I LOVE my Honda" commercials ALL WEEKEND. They know Honda consumers are like Toyota's, so they are preempting their damaged control. Ha!

      This is just as bad (maybe worse since it's not one model) as the Ford (really Firestone) tire shredding problem 12 years ago.

      Sure Toyota makes decent cars, but goto their HQ and if I recall there was a sign that says something like '#1 goal: Beat GM'. Well they did and now you see what happens when you're #1--they deserve NO mercy or pity from consumers. Branding is a flute when it comes to security and safety!

      Just Hyundai and Ford has the opportunity to eat their lunch easily.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is just propoganda for American car makers to sell their cars and say "see were not as bad as they are..." there is nothing special about this, Toyota will continue to sell cars as other makers have done and are doing. Ford has been sued several times take for example when they had the faulty gas line that would explode in a rear end collision. Years ago as well, when we heard about the Bridgestone/ Firestone recall with Ford and their SUV's..... the finger was pointed at them. Today Bridgestone Potenzas are regarded are some of the best street performance tires that high end / exotic car companies use on their cars. What about the previous recall with exlploding tires???? frogotten.......Priceless
        • 5 Years Ago
        u kidding

        right now it's toyota's turn to be onthe hot seat. and why not?
        they are selling defective car and they need to be held responsible

        let's just hope they make the right decision on the repair and htey did enough testing to know the repair will work, otherwise in 2-3 years when these repairs fail Toyota will be on the hot set again and this time the damage will be much bigger

        right now they will not sustain a large enough damage to where they will loose a lot of market to otehrs. they need to be consistently bad for a while before the US market starts to write them off.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Riiiight, because the media is totally in the pocket of the domestics... not! What about Dateline's rigged tests to blow up GM trucks? What about the entire NY Times being Toyota leg humpers?

        Give me a break. If anything, the media has been struggling to find ways to let Toyota off the hook. On NPR the other morning they couldn't stress enough about CTS and that "Indiana based company".
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hey Kevin... it is NOT propaganda for GM or Ford to kill Toyota.... They did it themselves and now it is time to face the music...

        When the Japanese manufacturers started to compete here they made a pack with each other to have a non-compete in there advertising and only attack our domestic cars and the fine cars from Europe... So who is predatory and who is the victim??? I am personally glad the competition sees the blood in the water...

        If you haven't been to a Ford, Hyundai or Volkswagen dealer to see that Toyota's competition has not only met up but surpassed Toyota in quality, design and driving dynamics.... The future only look dimmer for Toyota...
      • 5 Years Ago
      What kind of Toyotas do you your family and your neighbors drive? the ones that have the CTS pedals or the Denzos? this guy (and the company) has alot of nerve and that dumb add REALLY puts me at ease driving a toyota. what are these people on and how dare they treat us their customers so badly. my current toyota will be my last one! And I would really love to go behind the doors and watch them fix the so-call pedal replaced or reflash or change electrics.
        • 5 Years Ago

        "what are these people on and how dare they treat us their customers so badly. my current toyota will be my last one!"

        Your 4Runner isn't even affected by the recall...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I know but its the control issue. both the throttle body and the brakemaster cylinder or both controlled by electronic sensors and I have had bad issues with the brakes before. I would be braking downhill to a stop light and the brakes would slam on 100% even if you just tap them. this happening to me several times. my mom owns a Rav4 so she is concerned about her car. to be honest its more work than its worth and I love my Runner I will never sale it but I have lost confidence. so has my mom and she's been driving yota's since I 1993
      • 5 Years Ago
      How does a pedal that is "stuck" explain unintended "acceleration" ? It doesn't make sense folks.
      My RAV4 is now probably worth as much as a '73 Pinto. This was my 4th and LAST "Toileta".
      • 5 Years Ago
      (In reference to deaths caused by his company's product...)
      "Whether it's one, or whether it's two thousand... It doesn't really make a difference."

      Am I the only one who had a total WTF moment when I heard him say that? I mean come on, seriously?!

        • 5 Years Ago
        I was like WTF and even though I'm no fan of Toyota in regards to how they are handling this issue, I kept trying to think positively on why he would say that. I believe he meant that any one death is unacceptable and that his company is sensitive to it OR that none of the deaths have been directly attributed to this problem.

        Either way it sounded terrible.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think he really said it with great emotion, but the guy's not an actor. He clearly just meant that it's not about the number of deaths but that if there's a problem they'll work to fix it.
        That said I think Toyota probably did drag their feet on this more than they should have. But as car companies go there really aren't that many car companies that would be willing to freeze sales of 8 very popular models and issue a 9 million car recall. You guys know as well as I do that most car companies try to drag things out and claim that the recalls are just limited to a small number of cars until someone proves otherwise and forces them to do the recall, which generally takes years and years and years. As far as PR goes, yeah what Toyota is doing makes them look bad since they're suddenly recalling so many cars and admitting that there's a problem with acceleration but the truth of the matter is that they're at least attempting to fix things in a pretty timely manner. Should they have fixed it even more quickly? I think so, but I also know that the vast majority of other car companies would have taken even longer to recall all 9 million cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Uh, his point was that ONE death is too many, and should be considered as serious of a situation as if 2000 had died.

        I personally hate Toyota products, and I don't think they've handled this situation very well, but there's no need to add unnecessary fuel to the fire by taking comments out of context.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I thought the same thing!! How can he just write that off in such a nonchalant way? Toyota is going to be hurting when all the dust clears on this one...
        • 5 Years Ago

        I had the exact same "WTF???!!!!!!!!!!) moment you did.

        However, Lauer missed the best question of all: Toyota knew about the "pedal entrapment" issue that killed the patrolman and his family long before that issue. Lauer did ask Lentz when Toyota learned about the "stick pedal", to which Lentz replied October of '09.

        But the most important question was when did Toyota first learn about the pedal entrapment issue? There is incontrovertible that Toyota knew about this problem YEARS before the fiery 4 person death Lexus ES350 accident.

        Toyota dragged its feet on this problem and at least 19 people died because of it.


        I think people need to ask themselves this: if those had been our relatives who died in that Lexus, knowing how long in advance Toyota knew about the pedal entrapment with mats issue, would we ever buy a Toyota again?
        • 5 Years Ago
        mayday83 -

        I agree... he sounded cold and the deaths were just variables... nothing more...
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