WASHINGTON -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s top executives acknowledged to lawmakers yesterday that the company has been deficient in sharing safety-defect information with countries outside the area in which it was discovered.
A number of lawmakers have complained at hearings this week that Toyota sometimes has taken years to tell U.S. regulators about unintended acceleration and braking problems discovered in Europe.
The result has been delayed U.S. recalls of the Prius and Lexus whose problems had surfaced months or even years earlier overseas, the lawmakers said. The problem with sticky pedals also was discovered in Europe long before Toyota's January recall of 2.3 million vehicles.
“We should have done a better job of sharing” information, Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota Motor North America's CEO, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee yesterday. “When you go into a certain database, you can find it. But it is not positively shared.”
Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda said through an interpreter: “We intend to exchange and share information more timely throughout the world.”
Toyoda said that the company is forming a special global quality committee that he will chair to address safety-defect problems around the world. It will include a United States representative and will have its first meeting March 30.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who heads the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said the new Toyota panel does not go nearly far enough.
“It's still in Japan,” he said in an interview today. “Cosmetically it looks good, but all we are is a country with a ‘for sale' sign on it.”