Toyota has identified what it believes is causing its sudden acceleration problem and how the automaker plans to fix it, as company president Jim Lentz went on a media blitz Monday to restore confidence in customers affected by the massive safety recall.
In a release, the company said it will begin fixing accelerator pedals this week by reinforcing the pedal assembly, thereby eliminating friction that sometimes cause the sudden acceleration to occur.
Lentz told NBC's Today Show that the reinforcement parts were shipped today and dealers have been trained on how to install them. He said the company became aware of the sticky pedal problems last October and denied that the company's rapid growth hindered their ability to quickly identify and resolve the issues.
"There's no question that we were fast growing," said Lentz. "Could that have had an issue with some of our quality issues? It's quite possible."
"I apologize for this situation and I hope you'll give us a chance to earn back your trust," said Lentz, adding that customers will be notified via mail on how affected models can be remedied. Yet, some safety analysts say the announcement comes too little, too late.
"They're at a point where their reputation is rapidly declining, and the credibility is rapidly declining in a way where probably no one would have expected," said safety expert Sean Kane.
In Washington, the failure of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to spot the problem sooner is also drawing questions.
"There's no reason they could not have known about this and been further involved in pushing Toyota," said former NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrook.
Toyota refused repeated requests from ABC News for its executives to answer questions about the problem, and when its president and CEO Akio Toyoda was tracked down in Switzerland at an economic conference, he said he was "deeply sorry" but offered no other explanation of what went wrong.
Toyoda then got into a black Audi station wagon and drove away.