NEW YORK, NY – May 23, 2011 -- Toyota said today that it has received the recommendations provided in a report from its independent North American Quality Advisory Panel, led by former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.
Responding to the public release of the Panel’s report, Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda said, “We appreciate the Panel’s efforts to help us further strengthen our processes, and we thank this distinguished group for their recommendations. Over the past year, Toyota has learned a great deal from listening to the Panel’s valuable counsel. Their advice has been reflected in the meaningful steps we’ve taken to give our North American operations more autonomy and become an even more safety-focused and responsive company. Now, the Panel has given us further insights into how we can best achieve our vision of exceeding customer expectations with the safest and most responsible vehicles.”
Toyota’s North American Chief Quality Officer Steve St. Angelo said, “We especially appreciate the Panel's candor, and how they want us to achieve the highest possible standards for safety and quality. Right from the outset, we told them we wanted them to be straightforward with us, because we seriously want to keep improving our processes and our transparency. It is important to note that the Panel focused primarily on how we operate and communicate. While I am glad they’ve recognized the positive changes we’ve already made, I also appreciate how they want us to keep at it. I’ve told them we intend to do just that.”
“Over the past year, the Panel has spent many hours at our various facilities and they have seen many of our 30,000 American team members in action,” Mr. St. Angelo added. “They have told me personally how much they are impressed with our team and the way we build our vehicles – and I am pleased that our people and our production system were recognized in their report. All of us at Toyota are proud of the vehicles we produce and committed to ensuring that our customers are absolutely confident in their safety and reliability.”
The Panel noted in its report that, “extensive testing and analysis by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have revealed no electronic problems or software errors that could have resulted in unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles.”
As noted by the Panel, Toyota has taken several steps in line with their recommendations prior to receiving their formal report. These include:
- Giving North American operations greater autonomy to make proactive recall decisions
- Strengthening supplier quality controls
- Extending product development time to incorporate more safety testing
- Appointing a Chief Safety Technology Officer
- Launching a Collaborative Safety Research Center focused on protecting the most vulnerable traffic populations including children, teens and seniors, and
- Making its advanced THUMS crash test software available for university research at a nominal cost.
Toyota (NYSE:TM) established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants, including one under construction. There are nearly 1,500 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in the U.S. which sold more than 1.76 million vehicles in 2010. Toyota directly employs nearly 30,000 in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design. Toyota's annual purchasing of parts, materials, goods and services from U.S. suppliers totals more than $23 billion.