US panel doubts Toyota claims

(REUTERS)

Toyota Motor has failed to support statements of top executives that the automaker has rigorously evaluated electronic throttles in its vehicles, Democratic leaders of a congressional committee has said.

The assertion by Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak, chairmen of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee and its investigative subcommittee, respectively, added to the fallout from Toyota's safety and recall crisis that has shaken the automaker's reputation for quality.

Toyota has recalled more than six million cars and trucks in the United States since October for equipment and mechanical problems related to unintended acceleration.

But questions about possible glitches in throttle software and whether that is behind at least some cases of unwanted acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles are central to ongoing congressional and regulatory investigations.

Those questions were magnified last week by regulators, who said they were investigating more than 60 complaints from motorists alleging that recall fixes had not solved their problems with unintended acceleration.

Edolphus Towns, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, late on Friday asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for monthly reports on post-recall complaints and what the agency and Toyota are doing to resolve the matter.

NHTSA and Toyota are investigating the complaints. Toyota said on Thursday a partial review of reports found no evidence of problems with the fixes or the electronic throttle systems.

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