The Obama administration believes Toyota Motor Corp. is paying closer attention to safety concerns, the top U.S. transport official said yesterday.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is encouraged by the automaker’s recent safety steps and will be watching carefully, he said at a news conference.

LaHood said he had a frank discussion with Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda about the crisis that shook confidence in the company’s popular brands this year.


The automaker recalled more than 6.5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the United States — 8 million worldwide — in 2009 and this year, mainly for complaints about unintended acceleration. U.S. regulators are investigating allegations that the problems are associated with up to three dozen crash deaths over the past decade.

U.S.-listed shares of Toyota were up 2.4 percent at $76.69 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading.

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