Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Toyota president Toyoda 'deeply sorry' for recalls

Toyota chief Akio Toyoda: "I am very, very regretful that this has happened"

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has apologised for the recall of millions of cars across the world and pledged to set up a new quality control committee.

Mr Toyoda said he was "deeply sorry" for the recalls and admitted Toyota faced "a moment of crisis".

He added the firm was still deciding what to do about brake problems on some Prius hybrid models.

Toyota has already recalled more than eight million cars worldwide over concerns about accelerator pedals.

The US Transportation Department is investigating braking problems in the 2010 Toyota Prius after Toyota admitted brake problems with the model.

"There are reasons to believe that a recall could be put in place [in the US and Japan], but it's still early hours and early days," said Toyota UK's managing director Miguel Fonseca.

"There is still an investigation going on with the relevant authorities."

Further investigation

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received 124 reports from drivers about the braking issue, including four of crashes.

September 2007, US: 55,000 Camry and Lexus cars in floormat recall
October 2009, US: 3.8m Toyota and Lexus vehicles recalled due to floormat problem
November 2009, US: floormat recall increased to 4.2m vehicles
January 2010, US: 2.3m Toyota vehicles recalled due to accelerator pedal problems (Of those, 2.1m already involved in floormat recall)
January 2010, US: 1.1m Toyotas in floormat recall
February 2010, Europe: 1.8m Toyota's in pedal recall
February 2010, Japan, US: 200 reports of brake faults in new Prius. None recalled

There have been no reports of any such accidents in the UK.

The investigation will look into allegations of momentary loss of braking power while travelling over uneven road surfaces.

As depressing the brakes further activated normal braking, Toyota said the glitch was not legally a safety hazard and said it had received no reports of any accidents related to it.

Mr Fonseca told the BBC that the braking problem was "not a defect, but a characteristic of the way the ABS system is tuned."

However, he did say that "we are very disappointed to have let customers down and accept that we could have handled [the problem] better."

On Thursday, the carmaker reported a net income of 153 billion yen ($1.68bn; £1.06bn) for the final three months of 2009, compared with a loss of 164 billion yen a year earlier.

The firm also said it still expected higher sales and to make a profit this year, despite the heavy blow to the company's reputation.

Toyota estimates its losses will reach $2bn (£1.23bn) in costs and lost sales from its worldwide recall of vehicles that might have faulty accelerator pedals, but a recall of Prius models would send this figure even higher.

"The losses could escalate if it turns out that the trust and reputation the company built up over a period of decades has been demolished almost overnight," said BBC business reporter Jorn Madslien.

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