Imagine you’re a teenager being forced to attend a family get-together the day after you totaled your parents’ car while doing donuts in the school parking lot. Awkward, right? Now, imagine you did that to around 8 million cars and you’ll have some understanding of just how tense the room will be when Toyota president Akio Toyoda makes the rounds stateside in a few weeks. It’s almost enough to pity the guy. No, wait… it’s not.
Toyoda, who also happens to be the grandson of the car giant’s founder, had planned to pay a visit to the U.S. next week to meet with dealers, suppliers and employees, but that trip got pushed back to March because of inclement weather.
It’s a real shame Toyoda couldn’t get an earlier flight, because it appears he’s likely to miss out on two Congressional hearings, and maybe the March 2 Senate hearing regarding the current massive recall of Toyotas. And his absence is not sitting well with some high-placed D.C. folks.
“Surely if Congress can be here, so can you,” California Congressman Darrell Issa, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a statement to Toyoda on Thursday. Issa also said he would fully support issuing a subpoena compelling the Toyota chief to appear before the committee.
In a piece written for The Washington Post earlier this week, Toyoda said, “Great companies learn from their mistakes, and we know that we have to win back the trust of our customers by adhering to the very values on which that trust was first built.”
And then early on Friday, a rep for the company said in a statement, “We’re trying to be proactive… Some consumers are worried, so even if the information doesn’t rise to the level of a recall, we are taking this step to restore the company’s credibility.”
But wouldn’t Toyoda appearing before Congress demonstrate — even a little bit — that his company is dedicated to transparency on the recall issue?