Toyota under the microscope in Japan


TOKYO – Japan’s government is
investigating 38 previously reviewed reports of unintended acceleration by
Toyota Motor cars in Japan in response to the concerns over the company’s
safety record.

Toyota has recalled the Prius and
other hybrid vehicles in Japan due to a braking glitch but the acceleration
problem has cantered on the U.S. market and not yet been raised as a major
issue for cars sold in Japan.

Transport Minister Seiji Maehara
said the regulator had conducted routine reviews of 134 cases of unintended
acceleration between 2007 and 2009, 38 of which involved Toyota cars, a
proportion in line with its overall market share.

But Japan’s transport regulator has
decided to take another look into those cases in light of the increased
scrutiny of the issue. The probe will focus on Toyota but also include other
maker’s cars, Maehara said.

“The number of complaints
about Toyota cars is not out of proportion to its share of the overall number
of vehicles registered,” Maehara told reporters. “But given the
ongoing issue, we would like to investigate Toyota cars.”

Maehara said the 134 cases were
part of 15,000 or so auto-related problem cases brought to the regulators’
attention between 2007 and 2009.

At a congressional hearing on
Tuesday Toyota’s top-ranking U.S. executive, Jim Lentz, said 70 per cent of
complaints about unintended acceleration remained unexplained.

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