Toyota's CEO and President Akio Toyoda, who admitted yesterday he feels "ashamed" of the motor company's latest recall troubles, will be asked to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill when he reportedly plans on visiting the U.S. in the coming weeks.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said today that he will ask Toyoda to meet with the congressional panel and will request the committee's chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) also invite Toyoda to a hearing scheduled Feb. 24.
In a statement, Issa said the requested meeting is due to "the number of outstanding questions surrounding Toyota's relationship with U.S. regulators."
"I would think that Mr. Toyoda would be receptive to the opportunity to meet with policymakers and there certainly is widespread interest from Capitol Hill and the American people to hear directly from him," Issa said.
Snowstorms in Washington, D.C. delayed the hearing, which was originally set for today.
Yesterday, the Toyota CEO said he was now personally taking charge of the recall situation and promised to visit the U.S. soon "to explain the conditions and the situation to those people."
"Let me assure everyone," Toyoda, the grandson of the company's founder, said from the company's global headquarters, "that we will re-double our commitment to quality as a lifeline of our company with myself taking the lead."
U.S. and Congressional investigators want to know why the Japanese car company waited at least a month to inform its customers and government agencies of the braking problem, well after it had introduced a fix to the software in cars being manufactured.
The Toyota CEO told reporters he "did not recall the exact month and day" when the company first learned of the brake problem with the Prius. "I consistently receive all sorts of information," he said. "If you ask when, the answer is this year."
Some Toyota owners in the United States have been in rebellion over the company's slow response to their complaints of unwanted and uncontrolled acceleration that resulted in runaway cars.
Since 2003, the company has received reports of more than 2,000 accidents and 19 deaths tied to the acceleration problem.
Toyoda, who will address Toyota employees about the situation when he visits the U.S., said he has not yet fixed his own Prius.
When asked by ABC News if any Toyota officials would be held responsible for the global recall Toyoda said, "In regards to responsibility, Toyota's responsibility is that we have to truly cooperate together to regain the trust of our customers."
"I don't personally believe Toyota is failure proof," Toyoda said as translated. "But when we receive inquires or reports from customers we make sure that all of those things are corrected and modified, (we) implement improvement so that we can provide better products for our customers. We have done that in the past and we will continue to do so in the future as well."
"We will do everything in our power," Toyoda said in English, "to gain the confidence of our customers."