Speaking for the first time since the recall, Toyota's president publicly apologized for the safety issues that have splashed across headlines around the world and resulted in a massive and costly recall of Toyota vehicles.
President Akio Toyoda appeared in a press conference on Friday morning in Nagoya, Japan, to appeal to customers and apologize for the uncertainty that the gas pedal problems may have caused.
"I offer my apologies for the worries," said Toyoda, speaking in Japanese. "Many customers are wondering whether their cars are OK."
Toyoda said that he will head a new special committee to handle quality control.
Toyota's president also discussed reports of braking problems in the Prius. He said the company would come to a decision soon and that the company had considered a recall this week.
Toyoda's press conference comes one day after Toyota denied reports appearing in several media outlets Thursday that thousands of Prius vehicles will be recalled in the U.S. and Japan. The automaker dismissed the reports as based on unconfirmed and unsourced articles in Japanese English-language newspapers.
While the press conference is a step in the right direction, some observers who handle corporate crisis management say it won't do much to undo the damage sustained by Toyota's once-sterling brand reputation.
"The brand has a lot of concerns, and it's not going to end with one press conference," said Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations. He added that many consumers are not feeling reassured by the automaker's response.
"Do you want to be the mother at one o'clock calling her husband and saying, 'I'm going to pick up the kids from school in the Toyota?'" he said.