Congress Not Satisfied With Toyota’s Apologies

As expected, Toyota Motor Corp.’s top executives faced a tough grilling from lawmakers during an appearance before a Congressional hearing yesterday into allegations that the company covered up potential safety defects and didn’t move quickly enough to fix problems.

As reported by the Detroit Free Press, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and Yoshimi Inaba, president and of Toyota Motor North America appeared before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill. Toyoda spent much of the three-hour hearing apologizing for errors that were made, saying the company took “full responsibility” for past mistakes and vowing to do a better job in the future.

However, the apology wasn’t enough for many lawmakers who expressed displeasure that neither Toyoda or Inaba explained why Toyota took years to address thousands of complaints about sudden acceleration problems with its vehicles.

“I am not satisfied with your testimony,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. “I do not feel it reflects sufficient remorse for those who have died, and I do not think you have accurately reflected the large number of complaints that have been filed for more than a decade.”

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BMW to produce Megacity Electric Car in Leipzig

BMW is hardly a name that comes to mind when you think of economy and eco-friendly cars. However, that might be changing soon as AutoWeek reports that the car manufacturer will be devoting a portion of its plant in Leipzig, Germany to producing a new line of electric cars. In addition, parts for the new line of Megacity Vehicles will be produced at BMW factories in Wackersdorf and Landshut, Germany.

“The BMW Group will build the car of the future in Leipzig with high-tech innovations from Bavaria,” BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said in a statement. “The main reasons behind this decision are the qualities that Germany has to offer: we have a tried-and-tested production network here and high levels of education and outstanding competencies at our disposal.”

Wired Magazine reports that the new Megacity Vehicles will be based on BMW’s classic Isetta design and will meet California’s zero emissions vehicle mandate. According to published reports, the first Megacity could roll off of the assembly line in Leipzig in 2013.

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Toyota Recalls Prius Models with Braking Problems

The problems keep piling up for Toyota. As the company struggles to do damage control from the recall of more than six million cars due to problems with stuck gas pedals, it today announced that it is also recalling more than 400,000 hybrid vehicles – including its popular Prius – to fix problems with the brake mechanism.

Many drivers have complained about delays when pressing their brakes, especially in cold weather or bumpy conditions. Toyota will fix the problem by installing new antilock brake software into the car’s onboard computer. The recall will impact 2010 Prius owners in the United States, along with lines such as the Lexus HS250h sedan and the Sai, which is only sold in Japan.

The Prius recall might not be the last obstacle Toyota has to deal with. Automotive News is reporting that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is reviewing claims of power steering failures with 2009 and 2010 Corollas. According to the publication, the NHTSA has received 83 complaints since April 2008, with the majority of the incidents claiming that the car veers sharply to the left or right at speeds of more than 40 miles per hour.

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