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Toyota recall: Lentz on Digg

As I previewed in this column over the weekend, Toyota's U.S. boss Jim Lentz today faced Digg's 40 million strong audience over the company's global recall and cascading quality control problems:

On the whole, Lentz handled the social media format fairly well. He was dry, calm, and informed — even boring.

The set, on the other hand, was old school TV: two guys and a potted plant. It felt like a bad trip to infomercial-land. I kept waiting for Lentz and Digg corresondent Dave Yewman to don Snuggies and pitch us all a Bagel Guillotine Special Edition.

Those aesthetic quibbles aside, here are the top 10 (read: most Dugg) questions put forth by the Digg audience — and subsequently answered — by Lentz:

1) What do you drive?

2) How far along is Toyota on moving into some truly gas free cars in the future? Are these kinds of vehicles even possible or feasible in our current lifetime?

3) I was a General Manager of one of your largest dealerships in the US. I was aware that this problem dates back to 2004. In fact, there was a death involved in a sudden acceleration incident at an Atlantic City Hotel in a Camry that our dealership sold. At this point is Toyota's posistion going to chage as to the dates involved?

4) When will Toyota start making hybrid cars that aren't ugly as sin?

5) A former Toyota attorney has stated the company has known about these issues for at least three years, yet did nothing. He charges that Japanese Toyota executives instead covered up the problems. Are these charges true? And, whether or not they are, there are reports that Toyota has known since 2007 of the gas pedal problems. Why wasn't this dealt with sooner?

6) It has been years since Toyota had a sports car (Supra) available for sale in North America.
Are there any plans to bring back the Supra or come out with a new afordable sports car?

7) Mr. Lentz, I'm currently in the market for a new car, and until the recalls, the 2010 Prius was at the top of my list. I'm now back to square one and researching other manufacturers' hybrids. While Toyota's issues with acceleration and braking issues may be isolated, it has become clear that your company did not address these issues proactively or in a timely fashion. What is your message to non-Toyota drivers who may still be interested in your cars, but are very concerned about Toyota's response to the current crisis?

8) In the world of today, why does Toyota still produce 5 types of SUV's, is that not excessive?

9) Toyota has electronic data recorders in the cars -- yet they refused to release the data when I was in a crash, and it would have proven that the accident was not my fault. So I lost my car, my health and thousands of dollars. And now you say you can't track down the cause of this problem. Why not release the electronic data?

10) Did you hear about Steve Wozniak's software problem with his Toyota Prius?