Toyota Vows To Ramp Up Quality Control

CEO Akio Toyoda to travel to the U.S., no plans to attend congressional hearings

Feb. 17, 2010 — -- Despite mounting pressure in the US and repeated questions at today's press conference at Toyota's global headquarters, CEO Akio Toyoda said he will travel to the US but has no plans to attend next week's congressional hearings.

When asked by ABC News if he would testify if he were invited to do so, Toyoda replied as translated, "In regards to the hearing, Inaba who is well informed of the situation in the region will be attending. I will fully back up (Toyota US) President Inaba from the headquarters."

In response to the car giant's largest recall ever, Toyoda today addressed the press for the third time in Japan in as many weeks and announced plans to amp up quality control.

In his opening statement Toyoda said, "For better security of the cars, we plan to manufacture the brake override system for all models globally."

A statement detailed that the "brake-override system, which cuts engine power when the accelerator and brake pedals are applied at the same time," will be added, "to all future vehicle models worldwide."The latest Toyota vehicle currently under investigation is the Corolla for possible power steering problems.

"We've heard there are less than 100 complaints," Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki said when asked if there would be a recall.

"If there is concern of security," said Sasaki, "we will have to recall. If they are complaints, we would take our usual procedure of handling the matter with a remedy."

Toyota also announced today that, starting in the United States, the company aims to "conduct on-site inspections within 24 hours of every reported incident of suspected production malfunction."

On-board event data recorders will also be used more often to investigate repairs.

Questions still remain about why these fixes weren't made earlier.

"Our investigation was too weak," said Sasaki as translated. "If we were able to investigate and solve each case for our customers, things would have been better. If we were able to give proofs and reasons that it wasn't the electronic throttle, it would naturally clear people's concerns. We need to sincerely reflect on the weakness in the company's structure."

When asked by ABC News why the brake-override system was not installed in previous models, as it was announced it would be installed in future models, Toyoda replied as translated, "We are still trying to decide what to do for the upcoming manufacturing vehicles."

Similar to their advertising campaign in the US, Toyota today took out full-page spreads in major Japanese newspapers, as fixes to the remaining two hybrid cars here, the Sai and the Lexus HS250h became available.

"We apologize from the bottom of our hearts," the ads read, "for the great inconvenience and worries that we have caused you all."

Miki Toda contributed to this report.