"Stormy weather" for Toyota
CEO apologizes as Prius brakes now add to the automaker's production woes
As the CEO of Toyota apologized Friday and stated the company was facing "stormy weather" in its recent engineering issues that have forced millions of recalls, the company announced further problems with the brakes on the Prius hybrid vehicles.
After complaints that brakes on the Prius had a problem, Toyota officials found a software glitch that caused a deday in the braking. Toyota officials said it had fixed the software problem in 2010 models and was now preparing to make the changes on older models of the hybrid. The U.S. government is now looking into why the changes on older models were delayed.
In Toyko, CEO Akio Toyoda said cars were safe and that the company was looking into how and why the design flaws took place, as well as ways to correct them in the future.
Toyota officials said this week it was sending replacement accelerator pedals to dealers around the world to repair the problem that halted production and sales of eight major Toyota product lines last week and forced one of the largest and most extensive auto recalls in history.
Toyota officials defended the move to recall cars before a fix was in place, saying it was the best way to get drivers to understand the seriousness of the gas pedal problem. The recall affected 2.3 million cars in the U.S. and another 1.8 million in Europe.
The larger problem for Toyota now is to repair its damaged reputation in the industry. Once the gold standard for quality, Toyota's is now dealing with the problem of a massive recall.
Toyota took the unprecedented step tlast week to not just recall the cars over a problem with a sticking accelerator pedal, but to suspend sales and production of the company's cars until the problem is fixed.
Toyota's U.S. plants in Kentucky, Indiana and Texas would be closed to "assess and coordinate activities." Among the cars in the sales freeze is the Camry, the top-selling U.S. domestic car.
The recall of more than 4.2 million cars last week was increased by another one million Thursday when Toyota announced it was recalling another 1.1 million over the problem. The recall includes the Pontiac Vibe, which is built on the same platform at the Toyota Matrix. Also part of the recall and sales ban are Toyota's Corolla, Avalon, Highlander, Rav4 Tundra and Sequoia.
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