Toyota Head Apologizes to Shareholders for Recall Woes

Toyota Motor Corp. has been plagued with problems involving sticky pedals and defective floor mats, has issued several recalls and been the subject of probes, an historic federal fine, and a Congressional investigation. Recently, we wrote that compounding the ongoing, headline-making news the auto giant has been facing, the world’s largest automaker has been accused of deception, this time by Democratic lawmakers. Now, Reuters reports that Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, issued an apology to shareholders for the auto giant’s recall fiascos, promising a “fresh start.”

Reuters also reported that Toyoda said that the firm is implementing “a growth strategy built on emerging markets and environmental leadership.” When Toyoda issued his opening statements at the annual shareholders meeting, he apologized for the most terrible debacle in quality in the firm’s history, said Reuters.

“I would like to apologise once again for all the worries we have caused our shareholders,” Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder, said to the over 3,000 shareholders at Toyota’s headquarters in Toyota City, quoted Reuters. “But we’ve managed to post a profit after a year of losses and I feel like we are finally at the starting line this year,” he added.

About 10 million vehicles have been recalled since late 2009. Toyota is looking at over $10 billion from lawsuits in the United States said Reuters.

Executive compensation was not discussed at the meeting; however, Reuters noted that all of Toyota’s 38 executives—all Japanese—earned 37.5 million yen ($417,000), while Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn took home a massive 980 million yen.

Toyota moved some of its local managers to senior level positions at foreign affiliates; is promoting Didier Leroy, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Europe—the first European, non-Japanese to head the unit, replacing retiring Tadashi Arashima; and also named presidents for manufacturing companies in Texas and Kentucky, wrote Reuters.

Most recently we wrote that a variety of lawsuits against Toyota were being consolidated in Los Angeles County. The 40 cases, all focused on allegations of sudden acceleration, are pending in a California state court, said Business Week, and were ordered coordinated before one judge located in Los Angeles after California Chief Justice Ronald M. George asked the presiding judge to assign the 40 cases, explained Business Week.

Toyota is looking at over 300 lawsuits in both state and federal Court over issues of alleged and sudden vehicle acceleration, reported Reuters previously. A class-action suit, brought by the Orange County District Attorney, is one of the California state court cases.

Also included in the California state court cases is the lawsuit brought by the family of a state highway patrol officer who was killed in a crash in which sudden acceleration problems were alleged. In that case, the officer, his wife, his young daughter, and another family member perished in a tragedy that included a 911 call that recorded the family’s desperate pleas and final prayers and moments.

According to FreeP, the beleaguered automaker has been accused of misleading the public and allowing legal worries to overshadow resolutions to problems with sudden acceleration in some of its vehicles. Toyota maintains that it has been conducting a continuous probe, that it will publicize the results, and that it has repaired over 3.5 million vehicles, to date, said FreeP previously.

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