Canadian MPs accuse Toyota of sitting on info

Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:32pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian lawmakers accused Toyota Motor Corp executives on Tuesday of waiting too long to inform the government of problems with faulty accelerators in some of the company's vehicles.

Separately, Canada's transport minister said his department would conduct an investigation into Toyota's actions, and would consider making disclosure laws tougher if necessary.

Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, recalled more than 8 million vehicles in late January, 270,000 of them in Canada, over problems with sticky gas pedals and with floor mats that interfere with gas pedals and could cause unintended acceleration.

"Many Canadians have wondered whether their vehicles are safe, and we regret this has caused our customers both anxiety and inconvenience," said Yoichi Tomihara, chief executive of Toyota Canada Inc.

The company told Transport Canada of the problems with the sticky pedals on January 21, the same day it announced the recall. On January 26, it temporary halted the production of eight of its most popular models in North America as it worked on a fix.

The lawmakers wanted to know why Toyota, which said it knew of the problems in October and began working with pedal supplier CTS Corp on a redesign later in the year, waited so long to inform the government.

"OK, you've got a serious safety problem, you're already talking with your supplier about redesigning the faulty gas pedal, and nobody told Transport Canada or NHTSA (U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) for that matter, until after a recall was issued on January 21. That's what you are telling us," said Jeff Watson, a member of Parliament from the governing Conservative Party.


<p>Toyota Motor North America President Yoshi Inaba waits to testify before the Commons transport committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 16, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>