Toyoda apologizes to Congress and consumers

By Laurie Bennett

February 25, 2010 at 9:49am

The Toyoda family is to Japan what the Ford family is to Detroit.

“My name is on every car,” Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor, told Congress on Wednesday.

The company name was changed from Toyoda to Toyota in 1936, reportedly in the belief that the new name would bring good luck.

For decades, it did.

Akio Toyoda, who moved into the president’s post last year, is the grandson of Kiichiro Toyoda, founder of the automotive giant. His father, Shoichiro Toyoda, and his uncle, Tatsuro Toyoda, also held the president’s post.

After decades of growth, the company is now in crisis, trying to manage government questions and the prospect of litigation over defects causing its vehicles to accelerate out of control.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood yesterday criticized the company for failing to react to customer complaints.

Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns suggested that the company “was at times more concerned with profit than with customer safety.”

Toyoda apologized.

“We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organization, and we should sincerely be mindful of that,” he said.

“I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced.”

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