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Document: Toyota saved $100M on recall

Toyota Motor Corp. saved $100 million through a "negotiated" equipment recall on Toyota Camry and Lexus ES models and closed several additional U.S. defect investigations with "favorable" outcomes, according to a document sent to a U.S. congressional committee.

In other accomplishments described as "Wins for Toyota" the carmaker said it reduced or delayed the effect of proposed rules to require more rollover-resistant roofs, better door locks and stronger protection in side-impact crashes, according to the document that was turned over to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and obtained yesterday. Delaying the rules was credited with saving about $135 million.

The document, dated July 6, 2009, may add to questions for President Akio Toyoda as congressional committees open hearings this week into how Toyota and U.S. regulators handled evidence of unintended acceleration that has led to recalls of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide since September. Toyota has said the recalls may cost about $2 billion in lost sales and warranty repairs.

The $100 million in savings referred to a 2007 investigation in which Toyota recalled 55,000 vehicles, citing the potential for floor mats to trap accelerator pedals, after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Our first priority is the safety of our customers and to conclude otherwise on the basis of one internal presentation is wrong," the company said in an e-mail. The Detroit News reported the Toyota document earlier.

The internal Toyota document, which highlights accomplishments of the Washington office of the world's largest automaker, also said the company was able to avoid investigations of the Tacoma pickup for rust as well as resolve a labeling recall without civil penalties and saving $20 million in buybacks.

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