At a wide-ranging news conference held at Toyota headquarters here, Toyoda pledged that the Japanese carmaker was "sharing information across regions on a more timely basis," adding, "This is contributing to quick action."
Dressed in dark suit with a white-and-navy striped tie, Toyoda also promised to improve quality assurance in all Toyota vehicles. "I have devoted myself to advancing this effort by leading a new Special Committee for Global Quality," he said. "It is my top priority."
Toyoda said his company has established a North America Quality Advisory Fund, chaired by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, and has also appointed a chief quality officer for North America.
LaHood had arrived in Japan promising to deliver the world's leading automaker a stern message that U.S. regulators will not tolerate safety violations that endanger the public.
In a 25-minute session, LaHood told reporters that his delegation of U.S. transportation officials had met with Toyota executives for what he described as a frank dialogue. He applauded Toyoda for the various appointments and new structures within the company to further product safety.
"I told Mr. Toyoda today, these are very encouraging steps, but we will watch very carefully for improvements in safety and results in safety," LaHood said.
"The proof is in the pudding. We will continue to be vigilant about the safety of drivers in America."
LaHood's trip, a rare high-level meeting between a U.S. Cabinet secretary and a Japanese manufacturer over safety concerns, comes as both sides continue to feel the glare of public scrutiny. Since last fall, Toyota has issued nearly 11 million recall notices for its vehicles worldwide and faces a host of political, legal and regulatory probes.
But the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also come under fire for its handling of the Toyota defect scandal. In the last eight years, the agency closed multiple investigations involving Toyota despite thousands of complaints and allegations of several dozen deaths caused by sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles.
When asked at the news conference if Toyota had purposely withheld information from the NHTSA related to a 2004 steering rod relay recall, Toyoda said: "We do tend to take time getting down to the cause of problems, but we have never hidden information or attempted to conceal anything since our company started."
NHTSA officials have said they are conducting several investigations to determine whether Toyota violated U.S. safety laws and may issue additional fines. The automaker also faces more than 100 customer lawsuits.