Toyota says that its electronic throttles are not to blame

Jim Lentz, the US sales president for Toyota, testified that its electronic throttles are not responsible for instances of unintended acceleration.

Shizuo Kambayashi/AP
A visitor looks at the Toyota Lexus LS650hL at a Toyota showroom in Tokyo Wednesday. Toyota said Wednesday it will recall 4,500 Lexus vehicles in Japan to fix a computerized steering problem, with another 7,000 vehicles overseas also likely affected.

Toyota Motor Corp remains confident its electronic throttles are sound and not behind instances of unintended acceleration that led to huge recalls, government investigations and an avalanche of lawsuits, the company's U.S. sales president said.

Jim Lentz, in written testimony submitted to Congress ahead of a hearing on Thursday, also said Toyota has serviced more than half of the 6.5 million vehicles recalled between October 2009 and January 2010 in the United States for equipment and mechanical issues linked to the acceleration problems.

"We are taking major steps to become a more responsive, safety focused organization," Lentz said in remarks to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. "Our entire company has mobilized to ensure that Toyota vehicles are safe and reliable for our customers."

The hearing comes two days after Toyota paid a record $16.4 million fine to settle allegations by U.S. regulators it was too slow to act on one of the big recalls.

The Energy and Commerce Committee has demanded information about Toyota's electronic throttle systems and whether they could be at the root of the acceleration problems authorities say could be linked to dozens of crash deaths since 2000.

Toyota has said since being engulfed by its worst-ever safety crisis that the throttles were designed properly and perform properly.

"Toyota has never discovered or been provided with any evidence that (electronic throttles) can cause unintended acceleration in a real world scenario," Lentz said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revived its investigation Toyota throttle systems and unintended acceleration after members of Congress and safety advocates questioned whether previous reviews were thorough.


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