A senior U.S. executive for Toyota walked a fine line Tuesday as he tried to explain the company’s response to recent safety problems without admitting fault that could come back to haunt it in products liability lawsuits and two federal investigations.

James Lentz, president of the automaker’s U.S. distribution unit, testified before Congress that two factors contributed to the unexpected acceleration that consumers say has caused accidents: lack of communication within the company about prior recalls, and pressure to increase production at the expense of safety.

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