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Toyota sales booming despite recall

L-R, Lou Fusz Jr. Don Esmond, Tom Pappas
Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio
L-R, Lou Fusz Jr. Don Esmond, Tom Pappas

By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – The top U.S. official for Japanese automaker Toyota says March sales are way up despite an ongoing recall for sticky accelerator pedals.

Don Esmond, Toyota's Sr. Vice President of Sales, was in St. Louis meeting with dealers on Wednesday.

Lou Fusz Jr. owns 15 car dealerships in the St. Louis area. Despite having to halt sales for a short time in January, Fusz says February and March sales are better than last year.

"When the people come in, overwhelmingly they're very satisfied with their Toyota, and most of them have had 3, 4, 5 Toyotas," said Fusz, "and they plan on continuing to drive Toyotas and that's what we're seeing."

Despite a wave of bad press Toyota's Don Esmond, says March sales are up 37-percent over last year.

He also says that investigators have been unable to find any proof of unexpected acceleration in their vehicles.

"No one has ever proven that we have any ghosts in our acceleration," said Esmond. "They've deep-dived it, they've looked at it, they've said that they can't find anything, we've asked them to go even deeper and we will make that data available to anybody."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood fined Toyota 16 and a half million dollars on Tuesday, for in his words, "knowingly hiding" safety problems from regulators.