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Top Stories
Toyota's Jim Lentz Will Testify at First U.S. House Hearing
U.S. to Probe Toyota Corolla Steering Reports
Toyota Uses Olympic Ads to Seek Redemption
Hoekstra Questions GM's Handling of Dealer Appeals
Sears Begins Franchising Of Its Auto Centers
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Top Stories
Toyota's Jim Lentz Will Testify at First U.S. House Hearing

Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. sales unit president Jim Lentz will testify at the first U.S. House hearing on Toyota’s recalls, rather than the company’s North American president. Toyota, which has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for defects that may cause unintended acceleration, has been called to testify at two congressional hearings next week. In part, Lentz was asked to come to avoid requiring Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota’s North American president, to alter his travel plans prior to his appearance at a separate congressional hearing scheduled for Feb. 24 with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ... Yesterday, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said he doesn’t plan to testify at the U.S. congressional hearings and that Inaba would attend.
Source: Bloomberg

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U.S. to Probe Toyota Corolla Steering Reports

Toyota Motor Corp. and U.S. regulators are looking into possible steering problems in the company's popular Corolla compact, the latest quality issue to surface in the wake of two recalls that covered millions of vehicles and forced Toyota to halt U.S. sales of eight models. The Corolla investigation could start as early as (today), said a U.S. Transportation Department official. The inquiry will cover about 500,000 model-year 2009 and 2010 Corollas, officials said. Meanwhile, Mr. Toyoda on Wednesday reiterated the auto maker's plan to equip all new cars with a braking system that should be able to stop vehicles even if their accelerator gets stuck or pinned down, and provided some details on a new internal panel intended to revamp the company's quality-control issues.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Toyota Uses Olympic Ads to Seek Redemption

Amid the halfpipes, triple axels and doubled triple lutzes of the Vancouver Games, viewers are being treated to quite a feat: a corporate bend-over-backward. A commercial offering a companywide mea culpa from Toyota, which appeared during the opening ceremony last Friday, has been followed by spots about sales at local dealerships and even the start of a humorous campaign for the Sienna minivan. According to news reports on Monday about the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando, Fla., executives from Toyota Motor Sales told more than 300 of their dealers that the company would introduce an ad campaign next month to help them stimulate sales in the spring and was considering measures like new discounts and longer warranties.
Source: The New York Times

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Hoekstra Questions GM's Handling of Dealer Appeals

WASHINGTON -- A Michigan member of Congress today accused General Motors Co. of attempting to circumvent a new law that allows closing dealers to appeal. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, (R-Mich.), sent a letter today to GM's chairman and CEO Edward Whitacre Jr., questioning the company's decision to open new dealerships in areas where closing dealers are appealing. Hoekstra and some auto dealers argue that by opening a new GM dealership in an area, it makes it more difficult for a closing dealer to win an appeal. "GM is now awarding new franchises in market areas where a wind-down dealer has filed for arbitration," Hoekstra said. "I must question your treatment of your loyal dealers heading into the arbitration process," said Hoekstra, who is running for governor.
Source: The Detroit News

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Sears Begins Franchising Of Its Auto Centers

Sears Holdings Corp. said it will allow franchising of its Sears Automotive businesses, offering many auto dealers that have recently lost their franchises to sell new vehicles a new use for their space. Sears said franchisees will be able to open Sears Auto Centers that focus on parts and services, over-the-counter merchandise and previously owned vehicle sales. The franchises will have the same products and services that are now available at about 850 company-owned Sears Auto Centers. Coleman Auto Group of East Windsor, N.J., is the first dealership to franchise under the Sears name and will open a Sears Auto Center in March.
Source: Dow Jones Newswires

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