Congress wants more documents on runaway acceleration from Toyota
The House Energy and Commerce committee sent a letter to Toyota U.S. sales head Jim Lentz asking for deep and complete documentation -- and actual human beings -- about the possibility that Toyota runaway acceleration is caused by electronic, not mechanical, problems as the company has (mostly) maintained.
Toyota set itself up for this, to be honest. Last month, Lentz appeared before the committee and was asked if he thought the current Toyota recalls -- for entrapped floor mats and sticking gas pedals -- would solve the runaway issue. "Not totally," Lentz said.
The very next day, Toyota released a statement and Toyota president Akio Toyoda testified in another congressional committee that there's nothing wrong with Toyota's electronics and the recall fixes will work.
So, the House committee wants to know, which is it?
You can tell from the tone of the committee's letter, from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), that lawmakers are not pleased with what they've gotten so far from Toyota. Quoting from the letter:
"After we sent our letter on February 22, Toyota provided a few additional documents to the committee early in the morning on the day of the hearing. Several of these documents were written in Japanese."
Lesson: Don't toy with a congressional committee.
Not only does the committee want more documents showing that Toyota actually did extensively and robustly test its electronic throttle control and attendant acceleration system, but it wants the company to produce the person or people who did the testing to interview with the committee next week.
Here's what's interesting about this: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been harping on what he calls the "broken business model" between Toyota headquarters in Japan and Toyota North America, saying that Japan has not listened to what North America has been saying. This disconnect between what Lentz said about the gas pedals and what Toyoda said the very next day may illustrate that.
In other Toyota news today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received 60 complaints from Toyota owners who have taken their recalled vehicles in for fixes but are still experiencing runaway acceleration.
NHTSA is contacting each of the 60 owners -- and presumably everyone else who makes the same complaint.
“We are determined to get to the bottom of this,” said David Strickland, administrator of the auto safety agency.
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March 5, 2010; 3:28 PM ET
Categories: Autos , Congress , Corporations , The Ticker | Tags: Jim Lentz, Toyota problems, toyota, toyota congressional hearings, toyota recall model and years
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