Toyota's massive recall of cars and trucks in the United States to fix an accelerator problem only came after pressure from the U.S. government, a top U.S. official said Feb. 2.
"Since questions were first raised about possible safety defects, we have been pushing Toyota to take measures to protect consumers," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "While Toyota is taking responsible action now, it unfortunately took an enormous effort to get to this point," he said in a statement.
Department of Transportation officials flew to Japan in December "to remind Toyota management about its legal obligations and followed up with a meeting at DOT headquarters in January to insist that they address the accelerator pedal issue," LaHood said.
"We're not finished with Toyota and are continuing to review possible defects and monitor the implementation of the recalls."
Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor USA, said in a conference call on Feb. 1 that Toyota had not been forced into the recall. "If we look at the process that took place, back in late October we had technical reports of three vehicles that had this sticking in the pedal," he said. "As soon as we realized... that this issue was taking place.. obviously we were having communication with NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board)."
Lentz said: "The voluntary decision (to recall) was Toyota's."
Once that decision was made due to a safety issue, the company had "a legal and an ethical" obligation "to stop selling these vehicles."
Lentz also said the decision to halt production was "entirely ours."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010
Toyota Says Global Expansion Not to Blame for Recall
Toyota's U.S. Sales Down 8.7% Amid Recall
Canadians Launch Class Action Against Toyota and CTS
All Toyota Brake Recall Articles