Jim Lentz, President of Toyota

What was the accusation?

In late 2009, following a fatal auto accident (involving a Toyota vehicle) in Southern California, a series of Los Angeles Times reports identified similar mechanical issues (i.e., unintended acceleration) affecting Toyota vehicles across the United States. Further investigation by the Times (among other news outlets), local authorities, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) eventually compelled Toyota to issue two separate recalls: the first in response to initial claims that defective floor mats were the sole cause of the problem, the second in response to more conclusive evidence that the gas pedals themselves were also defective. These recalls adversely affected Toyota’s North American operations and instigated a larger federal investigation. As part of Toyota’s image repair efforts, Jim Lentz, President and COO of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. posted a video apology to the company’s website, addressing Toyota’s U.S. customers directly.


Key Apologia Strategies:

Corrective Action, Bolstering



Hi. I’m Jim Lentz, President of Toyota Motor Sales USA, and I want to let you know that we’ve developed a comprehensive plan to fix the sticking pedal situation in recalled Toyota vehicles. But first, I want to sincerely apologize to Toyota owners. I know that our recalls have caused many of you concern, and for that I am truly sorry. Toyota has always prided itself on building high-quality, durable cars that customers can depend on, and I know that we’ve let you down. I want you to know that all 172,000 Toyota and dealership employees across North America will work hard to fix your vehicle properly and regain your trust. In fact, many of our dealers will have extended hours, and some will remain open 24 hours a day to get this job done.  And we’re redoubling our efforts to ensure that this does not happen again. The fix can be completed within a short period of time depending on the work flow at your dealership. We hope to start making those repairs in just a few days. Owners will be notified by mail when to set up a dealer appointment. In addition, our dealers have already started fixing the earlier announced floor mat recall vehicles. We’re doing this as quickly as possible, and we ask that you contact your dealer when you’ve received our letter in the mail. Some Toyota vehicles were involved in both recalls, and we hope to coordinate your notification so you can take care of both repairs in one dealer visit. For more details, including a list of the vehicles involved in these recalls, please visit Toyota.com or call the Toyota Customer Experience Center. Once again, I apologize for this situation, and I hope you’ll give us a chance to earn back your trust. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Evans, S., & MacKenzie, A. (2010, January 27). The Toyota recall crisis. MotorTrend. Retrieved from http://www.motortrend.com/news/toyota-recall-crisis/

Lentz, J. (2010, February 2). An open letter to Toyota customers. Retrieved from http://pressroom.toyota.com/images/document/ToyotaCustomerLetter.pdf

Ross, B., Rhee, J., Hill, A.M., Chuchmach, M., & Katersky, A. (2014, March 19). Toyota to pay $1.2B for hiding deadly €˜unintended acceleration.’ ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/toyota-pay-12b-hiding-deadly-unintended-acceleration/story?id=22972214

Vlasic, B., & Apuzzo, M. (2014, March 19). Toyota is fined $1.2 billion for concealing safety defects. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/business/toyota-reaches-1-2-billion-settlement-in-criminal-inquiry.html?_r=0

Whoriskey, P. (2010, February 2). Toyota issues public apology, details plan to fix pedals. The Washington Post. Retrieve from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/01/AR2010020100275.html