An internal memo which is extremely embarrassing for Toyota has surfaced.
It revealed that in 2007 the carmaker convinced US transportation department safety regulators to end an investigation into motorist’s complaints of sudden unexplained acceleration of their cars.
The problem was addressed with recall of floormats, a cheap option which saved Toyota more than 70 million euros.
Regulators believe five deaths are associated with floor mats and are reviewing up to 29 other fatal accidents to see if unintended acceleration is to blame.
The memo has raised the pressure on Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda.
He is due to be publicly questioned by members of the US Congress this week about his company’s response to safety issues, including sticky accelerators and a braking glitch on some models.
At the same time, Toyota said it would temporarily halt production for a number of days at its plants in France and Britain due to soft sales, following the safety concerns.