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Toyota hit with grand jury subpoena

by Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Toyota said Monday it has received a federal grand jury subpoena for documents relating to the unintended acceleration of its vehicles and braking systems in the Toyota Prius.

The carmaker also received a request and a subpoena for similar documents from the Los Angeles office of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The subpoenas and request were revealed in an SEC fililng.

Toyota (TM) has recalled more than 8 million vehicles related to possible unintended acceleration. The 2010 Toyota Prius was the subject of a separate recall involving problems with its brakes.

The federal grand jury subpoena was from the Southern District of New York. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District declined to comment on the matter, saying "It is our office's policy to neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation."

Toyota intends to cooperate with the investigations, the automaker said in its filing.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda and other company executives are expected to testify in Washington on Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee. The committee is looking into how the automaker and federal auto safety regulators dealt with concerns over unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles.

Internal documents leading up to the hearing show Toyota executives boasting of the cash saved by negotiating down the severity of the recall related to acceleration.

Separately, the company said late Monday it will offer a brake override feature on more models to "provide an additional measure of confidence" for customers.

The feature automatically reduces engine power when the brake and accelerator panels are applied simultaneously. It will be added to the 2005-10 Tacoma, 2009-10 Venza and 2008-10 Sequoua when modifications are made to fix the sticking accelerators.

Toyota said the brake override feature will be incorporated into most models sold in the United States by the end of this year. To top of page

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