The US head of PR for Toyota sent an e-mail to another executive in January, saying the company needed "to come clean" because it wasn't "protecting our customers by keeping this quiet," according to multiple news reports.
Irv Miller, then the US VP of environmental and public affairs, wrote the e-mail on January 16, five days before Toyota announced the recall. He announced his retirement in December 2009, and officially left the company in late January.
The e-mail is included in 70,000 pages of documents that the company turned over to federal investigators, according to The Associated Press, which notes that the e-mails show "concerns within Toyota's public relations leadership that it wasn't dealing with the safety problems squarely."
Toyota's North American unit issued a statement April 7:
While Toyota does not comment on internal company communications and cannot comment on Mr. Miller's email, we have publicly acknowledged on several occasions that the company did a poor job of communicating during the period preceding our recent recalls.