TOKYO — Toyota's president visited a dealership in Tokyo on Saturday and apologized over troubles that have prompted the world's biggest automaker to recall some 8.5 million vehicles, a news report said.

Akio Toyoda, a grandson of the company founder, told at least one customer having a Prius repaired that the company had "caused concern," Kyodo News agency reported.

Toyoda also asked an official at the dealership in Musashino if the recall process was going smoothly and offered encouragement, Kyodo reported. The news agency said the appearance was an attempt to show Toyoda is taking the lead on the recall issue.

Toyota's top executive has been criticized for the company's perceived slow response to the recalls that have sullied the company's image for quality and safety. He kept a low profile during the initial recalls late last year but has been more visible recently, giving two news conferences and publishing an opinion column in The Washington Post.

Officials at Toyota could not be reached late Saturday for comment on the Kyodo report.

Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling about 8 million cars for a gas pedal that can stick in the depressed position and floor mats that can get stuck under the accelerator. On Tuesday, the company announced a recall of 437,000 Prius and other hybrids over brake problems.

Toyoda has apologized repeatedly and vowed to win back customer trust. The company is setting up a special committee focused on improving quality and plans to disclose vehicle problems even when it is not legally required to do so.

The U.S. Congress is scheduled to hold hearings on Toyota's recalls on Feb. 24-25 and March 2. Toyoda is expected to visit the United States early next month, though the company says nothing has been decided on whether he will attend any hearings. (AP)