Toyota president apologizes, says company priorities were confused

Toyota president apologizes, says company priorities were confused

Akio Toyoda, the head of embattled Toyota, said in prepared testimony that he fears the pace at which the carmaker expanded in recent years may have compromised safety.

“Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick,” Toyoda said in prepared remarks for a Wednesday hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“I would like to point out here that Toyota's priority has traditionally been the following: First, safety; second, quality; and third, volume. These priorities became confused, and we were not able to stop, think, and make improvements as much as were able to before, and our basic stance to listen to customers' voices to make better products has weakened somewhat.

“We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organization, and we should be sincerely mindful of that,” Toyoda said. “I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced.”

The company has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide and is facing heavy scrutiny this week on Capitol Hill. The carmaker and U.S. federal regulators are testifying before the Oversight panel on Wednesday and in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday.

In a letter sent on Monday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), head of the Energy and Commerce panel, said he questioned whether the car company has been forthcoming about why vehicles have faced sudden acceleration problems.