Obama Tells Automakers to Act Quickly on Safety Issues

Automakers must act "quickly and decisively" to respond to safety complaints, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an interview published Friday (EST) with Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine, his first comments on the Toyota recall.

"Every automaker has an obligation when public safety is a concern to come forward quickly and decisively when problems are identified," Obama told the magazine.

"We don’t yet know whether that happened with Toyota. That’s going to be investigated," he said.

"My hope is that, moving forward, all automakers recognize that their brands are at stake when it comes to safety issues," Obama said.

Toyota, the world's biggest carmaker, has been accused in the United States of being too slow to act on the accelerator and brake problems behind the recalls of more than eight million vehicles worldwide.

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The company faces a host of class action lawsuits in the United States, where Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood vowed Wednesday to hold the company's "feet to the fire."

Obama however held his opinion on whether U.S. regulators or Toyota moved too slowly to recall the defective vehicles.

"We don’t yet know all the facts, so I don’t want to offer an opinion just off the top of my head," Obama said.

Nevertheless the U.S. president was confident that the Japanese auto giant would make a comeback.

"Obviously, Toyota has been an extraordinary automaker for a very long time, and I suspect that they will continue to be, despite this recent glitch," he told the magazine.

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