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Fifteen days after Toyota announced a recall of 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. for sticking accelerator pedals, the company's president and grandson of its founder made a formal apology at an evening news conference in Japan on Friday night (early morning EST). Akio Toyoda has been largely silent during the last two weeks as his company struggles to contain the fallout from recalls affecting over nine million vehicles on multiple continents. The only other time he's spoken on record was during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last Friday when he told a Japanese interviewer, "I am deeply sorry." What's the reason for today's remarks? Toyoda told the audience of press, ""I came out here today because I would not want our customers to spend the weekend wondering whether their cars are safe."

The company president also announced that a committee would be created to look at Toyota's quality issues and address them going forward, something his predecessor, Katsuake Watanabe, also did back in 2006. Finally, in regards to braking issues with the 2010 Prius revealed yesterday, Toyoda said the company would soon announce how it plans to address them. Despite reports coming out of Japan to the contrary, there has been no official confirmation from Toyota that the new Prius will be recalled. Both the Japanese and U.S. governments have also opened investigations on the Prius and Toyota has pledged its cooperation.

We also learned yesterday of brake issues in the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid after Consumer Reports experienced a sudden loss of braking power in a Fusion Hybrid and contacted the automaker. The issue sounds similar to what some owners are experiencing in the 2010 Prius, though we've only heard of this one instance and Ford has already responded with a TSB to repair the issue with a software upgrade.

UPDATE: Statement by Toyota President Akio Toyoda added after the jump.

Tired of Toyota recall news? Try out the recall-free version of Autoblog.

[Source: The New York Times | Image: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty]

Statement by Toyota President Akio Toyoda

I, Akio Toyoda, deeply regret the inconvenience and concern caused to our customers and others by our recent recalls of multiple vehicle models across multiple regions.

Today, as so many people have expressed their sense of unease, I realized the necessity of asking you all here on short notice to share with you the following.

As Toyota revealed yesterday, new Prius now in showrooms include an improvement. For Prius in the hands of customers, I have instructed that consideration be made as soon as possible regarding the way to address such units. Once a decision is made we will inform the public.
As for the accelerator-pedal recall in the United States, Europe, China and other countries and regions, repair-work preparations are being made at our dealers. As soon as these preparations are complete, once again, we will inform you.

From Toyota's beginning, "contributing to society through the manufacture of automobiles" has been its key principle. To that end, since taking office in June last year, I have endeavored, based on our "customer first" and "genchi genbutsu" fundamentals, to thoroughly establish a product-focused management.

However, we, the ones supposed to relay to people the attractiveness of automobiles, have, instead, imparted on them worry. I regret this more than anything.

Under the banner, "Let's build better cars", we will go back to the basics of "customer first" and "genchi genbutsu", and once more, deeply consider what "customer first" really means. All our employees around the world, all of our dealers and all of our suppliers will unify in their utmost efforts to regain the trust of our customers as soon as possible.

As for specific actions, our Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki will soon brief you. Let me just say that I will take the lead toward improving quality around the world, by establishing a global quality special task force that will conduct regional quality improvement activities.

Concrete action plans
The Committee headed by the President will conduct various improvement initiatives.

The key initiatives are,

First, while verifying the causes that led to the recalls, Toyota will once again inspect every process -- quality in design, quality in production, quality in sales and quality in service.

Second, Toyota will enhance the customer information research offices to improve regional information collection and genchi-genbutsu activities.
Third, to develop quality-management professionals, Toyota will establish an "Automotive Center of Quality Excellence" in key regions.

Fourth, Toyota will seek confirmation and evaluation from outside experts -- in line with industry's best practices -- of its newly improved quality-control management, based on the above improvements.

In addition, Toyota will work to increase the frequency of communication between itself and regional authorities. To provide customers with satisfying products in each and every region, Toyota has long promoted the autonomy of its regional subsidiaries. From now on, we intend to further this autonomy, listen carefully to each and every customer and improve quality.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota has always had recalls in 05 and 06 they had more recalls than cars they built but where always able to hide and they tried to hide this one but got caught buy the govt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have leased Toyota Camrys for the past 15 years and have never had a minutes problem with any. The only time they were in the shop was for normal maintenence. The car could not have remained a top seller for so long if there were not a huge amount of other satisfied customers. I remain a loyal Toyota consumer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I leased a Lexus from 05 to 08 and the car was in the shop for warranty repairs 14 times for a grand total of 26 days without the car I leased.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Honda and Ford gain benefit from this
      • 5 Years Ago
      Unfortunately, this is a price of a government competing with private enterprises through Government Motors.

      There were a handful cases, and no death (the silly ever-accelerating cop doesn't fall into this category, as his death was due to the incorrect floor mats installed by the dealer). Despite apparent lack of any significant danger to the public, Government advises people not to buy Toyota. Never before, even in cases of several reported death, the US government stepped in with such warnings.

      With the government having vested interest in increasing GM profits, it will be a tough competitive environment for everyone.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's such bullcrap. LaHood is not 'The Government'. He is a goof who got carried away under questioning and made a stupid comment.

        It is not because of the federal control of GM that this case has been blown out of control. It is because the public has finally woken up thanks to Copenhagen, Climategate, Obamacare, Chinese and Japanese ownership of massive US debt, Main Stream Media and IPCC BS etc. and will not allow themselves to sleep through lies any longer.

        America is finally awake. Get out of the way.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If its a conspiracy, then somehow the government or GM would have had to cause the unintended acceleration in those Toyotas. Do you have proof of that?

        Wether the government had bailed out GM or not, this story would still be just as big.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you haven't already done so, watch the hearing in Congress when LaHood made his statement about not driving your Toyota. He was being asked after a couple of previous forceful questions something like 'What would you say to the public?'. He was clearly uncomfortable and blurted out 'Stop driving your car and take it to Toyota'.
        It was not a released statement.
        He immediately went outside the chambers and issued his retraction.
        He GOOFED.

        • 5 Years Ago
        When a potential problem of this caliber almost spans an automaker's entire lineup I think the recall and investigation are warranted. Especially when that company has been found to have known about it for quite some time and not done anything.

        But you're right, it's probably some conspiracy to boost General Motors sales, except that every other automaker benefits.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agree. Did the government tell people not to buy fords when over 250 people died due to faulty tires in their suv's?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Great another Toyota groupie the feels Toyota is getting treated unfair lol.....

        Listen up, this is not a plot to bring down Toyota by the Government of the US...You know what this is??? This is what happens when you don't do the right thing and play by the rules...Every single automaker has recalls there is not question there...2nd It wasn't the government who first showed the spot light at Toyota...It was the media after getting countless reports of Toyota's getting into accidents and right now being linked to 19 deaths due to a "runaway Toyota"...The fact that Toyota denied anything was wrong with their cars up in till the point the media started giving victims a voice in public view, it wasn't in till then did the NHTSA looked into the matter and Toyota happen to get forced into a recall...As for not being aloud to sell cars- news flash they didn't have a fix for their problems and avoided because Toyota was tooo stubborn to think anything could be wrong with their cars...Now the fact that they also denied something was wrong with the Prius brakes but now come clean because even the Japanese government opened up an investigation into the matter not just the US...Toyota got caught with their pants down it's that simple and they are going to suffer the same consequence like everyone else...Why should Toyota get treated any better or worst?

        a plot by the government to bring down Toyota hahaha get a clue....
        • 5 Years Ago

        The the recall and investigation are warranted even in less significant cases, there are no doubt about it. However, when Ford was killing 10s, if not 100s, of people with Bridgestone tires, or poor roof designs, or something else, government never issues a warning "Do not buy Ford, Do not buy GM or Chrysler". All of the American brands had their share of issues, and somehow the government always allowed market forces to work it out. Now, suddenly, when the issue is nowhere near the severity of recalls of other automakers, the government is issuing opinions and advisory messages on the subject. Come on.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That is right . In the good old days , MR. TOYODA WOULD DO THE HARRI KARRI THING . :-)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not funny R.L.H.
        Are you also smiling about the teenage girl in Boston who just hung herself after being bullied?
        Suicide is a tragedy. Why would you wish it on any person?
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a Toyota Camry 08 I would buy another if I need one there are super cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Recalls have been the big taboo.
      It`s no wonder Toyota hides them in light of their competitors getting bashed by the media and customers .
      Toyota built its reputation on not having recalls and issues with quality. They would quench them when they appeared.
      We should embrace recalls as a positive thing.
      I have had vehicles I wish were recalled. I had to fix them on my coin.
      I view a recall not as a measure of product quality but as a measure of a companys customer service quality.
      We will all be better off if we view a recall as a positive thing weather we like it or not.
      Sure its a pain to have your car getting fixed but all things have problems even Toyotas.
      • 5 Years Ago
      they cheated us and will continue the same....
      • 5 Years Ago
      LOL, anyone else think the photo looks like he's getting ready for the colossal buttraeping coming down the pike?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great, he apologizes but does nothing about it. Is this the new toyota? Didn't they apologize years ago for making junk for people to buy and doing nothing about it?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sounds about right Sea Urchin, that's the American way!
        • 5 Years Ago

        Could not agree more with your post. Well said.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The first step is acknowledging you have a problem.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No no no, Zaphod. As bad as all this is, we enthusiasts can't afford to lose Toyoda. He is a driving force behind projects like the FT-86.
        • 5 Years Ago
        He is apologizing for being caught, and forced to react.

        I hope I'm wrong, but I think they would have ignored all these problems if they could have.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Please, let's stop with the Japanese history of committing suicide. We wouldn't suggest suicide for any non-Japanese person for a business failure, let's not do it for Japanese either. It is in the worse possible taste to do so.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ John

        Nobody actually is suggesting he commit suicide. Comments like that are meant to highlight the absurdity of the practice, which I might add is still occasionally engaged in to this day. I think most Westerners would say what is in bad taste is a cultural expectation that upon suffering a personal failing, one should end their own life rather than seek to better themself by learning from the mistake. But, then again, the Japanese probably wonder how people like Bernie Madoff can stand to continue drawing breath in light of such a public shaming.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, I dont' understand the deal with the Prius. CR confronts Ford about the Hybrid Fusion/Milan and they're like, "yeah, we know. we're mailing the stuff out to dealers now on how to fix it." Toyota on the other hand dithers when THEY'VE ADMITTED THEY KNOW OF THE PROBLEM AND HAVE THE FIX. They should at least be doing like Ford and start a service campaign if not a recall. Sorry, but a condition in which the brakes don't work or only partially work for nearly a full second in slipperly conditions is NOT a drivability issue.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are so right...They couldn't bomb us-tryed to break us...Boom ! I love it...!!!!!!!!!

        • 5 Years Ago
        I think it should be evident where the problem really stems from by now. Marketing driven carmaking, as opposed to engineering driven carmaking.

        Toyota tried to outpace everyone with their rate of changing things. They were breaking what didn't need to be fixed, basically. Gone are the cars like a Camry that'll run forever, the LS400, original SC, Supra. They replaced those with new, but not necessarily better models and changed those every five minutes.

        There should be much better initial cars, with longer product cycles. Stop catering to idiots who don't know what they want, or what makes a good car. That's the recipe for disaster that Toyota has followed to this point.

        "Genchi genbutsu"? REALLY TOYOTA? That pisses even me off, and I'm allegedly a huge fanboy!

        How was changing my damn IS300 engine from inline to V6 putting informed consumers first?! How was ruining the vast majority of the product lineup with soft, friendly cars putting them first?

        How the F was killing off the Supra and Celica putting customers first?! Here's your problem Toyota: you're catering to IDIOT customers, so you've ruined the vast majority if your cars!

        Stop catering to uninformed, dumbass consumers and make good cars again, with pedals that work, engines that are as good as the ones from the 90s! It's like cars are going back to the days of the cave, from the age of the skyscraper. Has anyone else noticed this trend?
        • 5 Years Ago
        John you are right and these kinds of comments need to stop.

        Keep it up, morons, and this forum will be shut down like Engadget.
      • 5 Years Ago
      TOYOTA : IGNORE THE BLITHERING IDIOTS, LET THEM BUY THEIR CARAPALANCHES, CATTLELACKS, SHAKAHRADOS, BUMMERS, ETC. YOU KNOW GM TRASH......................................................................................................


      P.S. IGNORE THE 32 MILLION CAR & TRUCK OWNERS IN THE DEXCOOL CLASSACTION SUIT.......................................... THEY ALREADY KNOW THEYVE BEEN HAD....................................................................................................

        • 5 Years Ago
        Got more? Or did the drugs wear off?
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