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House Energy & Commerce Committee To Hold Hearing On Toyota Recall

January 29, 2010 – Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak yesterday announced the Committee will be holding a hearing on February 25, 2010, to examine the persistent consumer complaints of sudden unintended acceleration in vehicles manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation.

“Like many consumers, I am concerned by the seriousness and scope of Toyota’s recent recall announcements,” said Chairman Waxman. “I look forward to learning more about the steps Toyota is taking to address safety defects, and I hope that the automaker will continue to cooperate with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] to get unsafe vehicles off our roads.  Our hearing will help us better understand how quickly and effectively Toyota and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration responded to consumer complaints about the safety of the recalled Toyota vehicles.”

“While our meeting with Toyota officials yesterday was helpful, we continue to have questions about what was done to investigate and resolve this safety issue both by Toyota and NHTSA,” said Subcommittee Chairman Stupak.  “Incidences of sticking accelerators have been ongoing with Toyota vehicles for up to a decade, and have led to a disproportionally high number of deaths.  Failure to take every step possible to prevent future deaths or injury is simply unacceptable.  Our hearing will press for answers about the source of this accelerator defect and investigate whether adequate measures have been taken to ensure the safety of Toyota vehicle owners and all Americans on the road.”

According to the NHTSA, sudden acceleration events in Toyota vehicles have led to 19 deaths in the past decade, nearly twice the number of deaths associated with similar events in cars manufactured by all other automakers combined.  During the past few months, Toyota has issued two recalls of millions of vehicles based on concerns of serious safety defects.  On January 26, 2010, Toyota announced that it was halting U.S. sales and production of eight recalled models.

Chairman Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Stupak sent letters to Toyota Motor North America President Yoshimi Inaba and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland requesting additional information and documents related to Toyota vehicles sold in the U.S.  Among the information requested is documentation from Toyota and NHTSA regarding when they first learned about potential safety defects related to sudden unintended acceleration and what actions they have taken to investigate and resolve the hazards.  In addition, committee leaders requested information concerning NHTSA’s investigation of consumer complaints and Toyota’s response to these complaints.

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