Automakers and Mitch Daniels and Toyota and Manufacturing & Technology

Governors ask Congress to go easy on Toyota

February 10, 2010

Four governors of states with Toyota plants are calling on Congress to be fair to the automaker in hearings concerning safety recalls.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley asked in a letter Wednesday that Toyota get "a responsible and fair response from the federal government."

"Toyota must put the safety of drivers first and foremost," Beshear said in a statement. "However, they deserve a level and reasonable response from the federal government—one that is not tainted by the federal government's financial interest in some of Toyota's competitors."

The governor was referring to money the federal government invested in Chrysler and General Motors last year.

Toyota has recalled nearly 8.5 million vehicles around the globe since November for problems that include floor mats that can entangle the gas pedal and gas pedals that can stick, causing sudden acceleration. The recalls have drawn interest in Congress, where lawmakers are looking into how the company handled the recalls and whether the government properly investigated numerous complaints.

The House Oversight Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are planning hearings, as is the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

In the letter, the governors said that Toyota employs more than 172,000 Americans in plants and dealerships across the nation and said the company's continued success is in the national interest.

"Besides the obvious good-paying jobs provided in our states, Toyota demonstrates a commendable positive spirit not only with its own employees, but also in the communities and neighborhoods within which its plants operate," the governors said.

They also criticized what they called "aggressive and questionable" news coverage "when the real story is how quickly Toyota identified the problems, found solutions and delivered those solutions to its dealers worldwide."

Toyota employs about 4,200 in the southwest Indiana city of Princeton, where workers make the Sequoia and Highlander SUVs and Sienna minivan; another 3,000 work at the Subaru Of Indiana facility in Lafayette, which makes the top-selling Camry.

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