Toyota president and CEO Akio Toyoda has changed his mind and agreed to testify before the U.S. Congress next Wednesday on the escalating series of safety issues and vehicle recalls that have dominated media and damaged the brand.
As we've detailed, Toyota's response has been slow and in some cases counterproductive. Just today, the company detailed how it would streamline communications between customers and employees, while Toyoda indicated that U.S. executives would testify.
Loose all-weather floor mat jams accelerator pedal. Photo: NHTSA
He previously said, "I trust that our officials in the U.S. will amply answer the questions," and that he planned to send Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America.
Now, apparently Toyoda has decided the PR damage of not showing up would be too great.
Calls for his appearance have come from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), and others. Issa even blustered last week that he would consider a Congressional subpoena for the Toyota CEO, an unusual move for a foreign national.
But late today, Toyota released a statement in which CEO Toyoda said: "I have received Congressman Towns' invitation to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 24 and I accept."
Putting the best face on a bad situation, he even continued, "I look forward to speaking directly with Congress and the American people." In response, Congressmen Issa and Towns said they were "pleased."
Congress also today issued a subpoena for documents relating to the safety issues. Much legal wrangling over jurisdiction and priority is expected to ensue.
For all the details on Toyota's recalls to date, see our guide to Everything You Need to Know About the Toyota and Lexus Recalls.
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