NEW YORK - Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc agreed to take steps to help inconvenienced owners of more than 500,000 recalled vehicles in New York, in a program that could become a template for other states, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.

The U.S. arm of Toyota Motor Corp agreed to provide expedited repairs, pick up and return affected vehicles, provide alternative transportation such as rental cars or taxi reimbursement while owners are unable or unwilling to use their vehicles, and arrange for the transport of owners to their dealerships or workplaces.

Toyota will provide the services for New York residents who bought Toyota vehicles from dealers in that state, at no cost to the owners or dealers.

It was announced as Toyota President Akio Toyoda prepared to testify before the U.S. Congress. The crisis has shattered confidence in the world's largest automaker, whose vehicles have long been known for their reliability and high resale value.

Toyota has in recent months recalled more than 8.5 million vehicles worldwide over such issues as unintended acceleration and braking problems.

Cuomo said the assistance program announced Wednesday is the first of its kind with a U.S. state.

The loss of a vehicle is a significant economic loss, Cuomo said at a Manhattan press conference as he stood in front of a Camry, one of 19 Toyota vehicles he said were operated by his office and subject to recall. We are interested in providing short-term practical relief.

Cuomo said his office is still investigating the Toyota recalls, and that there may be other remedies imposed.

Did Toyota know about these issues earlier than we were led to believe, he asked, without providing an answer. Who knew what, when?

The attorney general set up a website,