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Begich Secures Commitment from Toyota Official

Dealers can be reimbursed for remote location repairs

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich March 2 secured a commitment from an official with Toyota that Alaskans living in remote areas impacted by the company's vehicle recalls will be able to get the needed repairs without incurring significant costs.

Under questioning from Sen. Begich at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Yoshimi Inaba, President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc., said the company can reimburse dealers if they travel to remote communities where residents do not have easy access to Toyota dealerships.

"While there are no final statistics on the number of Alaskans impacted by the Toyota recall, it was reassuring to hear Mr. Inaba say Toyota would reimburse dealers if they are willing to fly to some of our more remote areas," Begich said. "Facing the uncertainty of owning a recalled vehicle, Alaskans shouldn't have to face the additional hardship related to costs or worries of what to do if you live in an area off the road system where you can't get your vehicle fixed. It sounds like Toyota is willing to come to the customer when necessary."

Toyota has recalled more than 6 million vehicles in the United States in recent weeks for problems on several models linked to gas pedals that stick and floor mats that can trap the accelerator in the depressed position.

Begich, a member of the Commerce Committee, took part in the Senate hearing which also included testimony from Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and David Strickland, Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Unconfirmed consumer complaints to NHTSA allege at least 26 fatal accidents involving Toyotas experiencing sudden unintended acceleration, resulting in 34 deaths.

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