Automaker will cover owners’ ancillary costs

By Michael Gormley
Associated Press / February 25, 2010

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ALBANY, N.Y. - Toyota Motor Corp. said yesterday it will offer free at-home pickup of vehicles covered by the national safety recall, pay for customers’ out-of-pocket transportation costs, and provide drivers with free rental cars during repairs.

The deal was initially announced as part of an agreement between Toyota and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York. But hours later, under questioning during a congressional hearing in Washington, a senior Toyota executive said the company was extending the benefits nationwide. The cost of the agreement was not disclosed.

Cuomo said yesterday that Toyota and Lexus dealers will offer services such as at-home pickup and return of customers’ recalled vehicles and free rental cars during repairs. The services will be tailored to the needs of each customer.

In Washington, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Ed Towns, a New York Democrat, asked whether Toyota would pay the same costs for other customers.

“Are you doing this just in New York?’’ Towns asked.

“No, this is happening nationwide,’’ said Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North American.

Cuomo’s investigation into the recall is continuing, though his office would not say what specifically the attorney general was investigating.