UPDATE 1-Toyota head apologises for huge recall -Japan’s NHK

By Chang-Ran Kim and Aiko Hayashi

TOKYO, Jan 30 (BestGrowthStock) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: )
President Akio Toyoda apologised for the recall of millions of
vehicles around the world, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported,
as the deepening recall crisis threatened to further damage its
sales and delay an earnings recovery.

“We’re extremely sorry to have made customers uneasy,”
Toyoda said on Friday on the sidelines of the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a brief clip on NHK showed.

“We plan to establish the facts and give an explanation
that will remove customers’ concerns as soon as possible.”

Toyoda had been conspicuously silent since the top
automaker’s recall of cars related to unintended acceleration
spread from North America to Europe and China this week.

As of Saturday, the global recalls of Toyota cars and
trucks had swollen to about 7.5 million vehicles, almost as
many as it sold worldwide in 2009. Toyota has said the
defective pedal was not used in any of its cars in Japan,
Australia and Asia excluding China.

The total includes repairs for an issue involving floor
mats becoming stuck under accelerator pedals.

Toyota has not recalled any cars in Japan, where it uses
different suppliers.

With calls mounting for Toyoda to address the media on the
escalating ordeal, the world’s top automaker had said it was
studying some form of comment or action from headquarters.
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A company source told Reuters a news conference may be held
early next week, prior to Toyota’s announcement of
third-quarter financial results on Feb. 4, but that the company
was still working on a final plan. The source did not say
whether Toyoda, or another executive, would hold the briefing.

Toyoda, a family scion who took up his post last June, last
commented publicly on the matter in October, when he expressed
regret for the deaths of four people in a California crash
linked to the defects last year.

He has vowed to revamp Toyota’s sprawling organisation to
make problems at every level of operation more visible, as a
rapid expansion over the last decade left it with too much
production capacity when the economic crisis hammered car
demand globally.

In an editorial, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun said on Saturday
that Toyota was skirting the responsibility to allay Japanese
customers’ anxiety over the safety issue, and that its brand
image, crafted over years of effort, would be damaged.

“Toyota’s response may indicate a growing complacency as
the company has surpassed General Motors [GM.UL] as the world’s
No.1 automaker,” it said.

Toyoda’s tenure as head of the company founded by his
grandfather is widely expected to last at least a decade given
his relatively young age of 53.

RIVALS CLOSE IN

As part of the recalls, Toyota has been forced to suspend
sales of eight models in the United States, including its Camry
sedan, the best-selling car in the world’s second-biggest auto
market.

Sources briefed on Toyota’s U.S. sales plans told Reuters
on Friday the sales shutdown would continue until at least
mid-February. A resumption assumes a smooth and swift rollout
of a remedy to fix faulty accelerators in vehicles already sold
or at dealerships, the sources said.

Competitors moved to profit from rising consumer
frustration, readying plans to poach sales with incentives
targeting Toyota customers. Ford Motor Co (F.N: ), Hyundai Motor
Co (005380.KS: ), and Chrysler Group LLC said they were rolling
out incentives, following General Motors’ lead.

Volkswagen (VOWG.DE: ), jockeying with Toyota for the title
as global sales leader, is considering a similar move.

Stock Market Trading
(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall, Kevin Krolicki,
Soyoung Kim in Ddetroit and John Crawley in Washington; Editing
by Jerry Norton)

UPDATE 1-Toyota head apologises for huge recall -Japan’s NHK