After Hearings, Toyota Faces Criminal Investigation

Posted: Feb 25, 2010 10:23 a.m.

Edmunds Inside Line called it “Undoubtedly, the low point for Toyota in 50 years of operating in the U.S.” 

Yesterday, Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who just eight months ago took the helm of the company his grandfather founded, “appeared before a U.S. congressional committee on Wednesday and endured hours of humiliation from angry lawmakers.”  Toyoda said that he believed the company he recently took over had grown too quickly before his arrival, and pledged his “personal commitment that Toyota will work vigorously and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers.” 

The company, however, has a momentous task before it.  The New York Times sums up the challenges: “Toyota faces a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the company. Its beleaguered U.S. dealerships are facing repairs to potentially millions of customer vehicles that have been recalled. The company is offering customers new reimbursements for rental cars and other expenses.”

Both New York’s criminal investigation and the SEC’s probe, according to USA Today, are “apparently aimed at looking into whether the company tried to cover up or delay acting on complaints of unintended acceleration in its vehicles.”

The next blow for the company may come next week, when February sales figures are announced.  The Times notes, “Toyota's January sales already fell 16 percent even as most other automakers rebounded from last year's dismal results. Analyst Koji Endo of Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo said he expects February sales, due out next week, to be down 30 percent to 40.”

For more information on Toyota's recent problems, including the latest news, please see our Toyota Recall page. If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals