With Toyota announcing nearly 3.5 million recalls since just the beginning of this year – on top of a record 4 million in 2009 – the embattled Japanese maker’s top executive issued his first official comment, in the form of an apology, today.
“I am deeply sorry,” declared Akio Toyoda, president and CEO and heir to the founding family of the Toyota Motor Co. Toyoda spoke with the Japanese network NHK after leaving the annual summit of world leaders held in Davos, Switzerland.
“Truly we think of our customers as a priority and we guarantee their safety,” the executive said, according to a translation, but Toyoda cautioned that he could not explain the source of a series of problems that have led Toyota to announce the recall of 7.6 million vehicles since just last October due to safety problems that could result in runaway cars, an issue also known as sudden, or unexpected, acceleration.
Even as the executive apologized, there were growing signs that further problems could be in store for the Japanese giant.
As Ken Zino, editor of TheDetroitBureau.com and World Auto Reports first reported, on December 24th, there are mounting concerns that 2010 Toyota Prius models may experience unexpected problems with brakes that can suddenly release when the vehicle hits a bump or pothole. In recent days, as word of the problem has begun to spread, TheDetroitBureau has received calls and letters from a number of additional owners, including Wisconsin’s Jill Krahn, who says her third-generation Prius has experienced unintended brake release on a number of occasions.