Toyoda to make third public apology as car giant battles to save its reputation

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The Independent Online

Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota, will today make only his third public appearance following the global recall programme that has rocked the Japanese car giant, offering a progress report on his company's efforts to get on top of the problems.

Mr Toyoda, has come under fierce criticism around the world for his low profile, at least initially, during an affair that has seen Toyota recall as many as 8.5 million vehicles amid fears of problems with their accelerators and brakes. After appearing to avoid all public appearances when the scandal first broke, Mr Toyoda last week issued a public apology for Toyota's failings on two separate occasions. Nevertheless, he is coming under mounting pressure to answer the questions of a congressional committee when he visits the US in the next few weeks in a trip scheduled before the recall programme began.

The US Department of Transport is understood to have made a formal approach to Toyota yesterday, asking it to provide details of when and how it first learnt of the potential problems with some of its vehicles. The news agency Associated Press said the inquiry focused on whether or not Toyota was aware of the concerns before it put the vehicles affected into mass production.

Mr Toyoda is today expected to give figures on how many vehicles around the world have now been modified – and to spell out what approach the company intends to take with models such as the Sai and the Lexus, which have so far not been the subject of recalls.

Thousands of Toyotas are being repaired in dealerships around the world every day. In the UK, more than 400 dealerships and workshops have begun working through repairs of the accelerators of 180,000 vehicles, including the popular Avensis and Auris models. Some 6,000 vehicles were fixed on the first day of the repairs last Thursday.

In addition, the company has said it will update the software installed in around 8,000 Prius hybrids on the roads in the UK, in order to fix a braking system fault about which some drivers have complained. It is in the process of getting in touch with those Prius owners who may be affected by the problem.