Just yesterday, Toyota Motor Company's president Akio Toyoda (yep, the grandson of the company's founder) indicated that he had no intention of attending a February 24 Congressional hearing before the House Oversight Committee. Instead, Toyoda said that Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota's operations in North America, will appear on behalf of of the automaker.

When pressed further, though, the New York Times reports that Toyoda said he would consider attending if he received a formal invitation, none of which had been extended. Well now, that little oversight has since been corrected. Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) has sent a letter – the text of which you'll find pasted after the break – formally inviting Toyoda to attend the upcoming Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public At Risk? hearing.

Oh, and Toyoda should also feel free to submit "written testimony for the record, of any reasonable length," and to "be prepared to provide a five minute opening statement and answer questions posed by Members of the Committee." Sounds like a nifty little shindig, we'll be waiting for our own formal invitations in the mail. We'll bring the popcorn.

UPDATE: According to a statement released tonight, Akio Toyoda will testify before Congress next week, saying "I look forward to speaking directly with Congress and the American people." Full statement after the jump.

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[Source: Committee on Oversight and Government Reform | Image: Junko Kimura/Getty]
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"I have received Congressman Towns' invitation to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 24 and I accept. I look forward to speaking directly with Congress and the American people."

Chairman Towns Invites Toyota President to Testify Before Committee

Hearing set to examine safety issues, public concern with Toyota vehicles


WASHINGTON – Chairman Edolphus "Ed" Towns (D-NY) today invited Mr. Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation, to testify at a hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 titled, "Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public At Risk?" According to The New York Times today, "Mr. Toyoda said he 'would consider' appearing before Congress if he receives a formal invitation, which none of the committees have issued."

Chairman Towns announced last month that the Committee is investigating Toyota's recall of millions of its vehicles due to reports of malfunctioning gas pedals. The hearing will examine the Federal government's response to the recall, and to gain a better understanding of the nature of the sudden acceleration problem in Toyota vehicles and what should be done about it.

In the letter to Mr. Toyoda, Chairman Towns wrote, "There is widespread public concern regarding reports of sudden unintended acceleration inToyota motor vehicles. 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, I am inviting you to testify..."

Text of the letter to Mr. Toyoda is below.

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February 18, 2010

Mr. Akio Toyoda
President
Toyota Motor Corporation
c/o 601 13th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Mr. Toyoda:

As you know, there is widespread public concern regarding reports of sudden unintended acceleration 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.

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, I am inviting you to testify at a hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday, February 24, 2010, at 10 a.m. in room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

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 Friday, February 19, 2009, to confirm your attendance. Should you have any questions, please contact the Committee staff at 202-225-5051.

Sincerely,


Edolphus Towns
Chairman