Toyota Hearings: Akio Toyoda, 'We will invest heavily in quality' (part 3)

James Raia

Toyota Hearings: Akio Toyoda, 'We will invest heavily in quality' (part 3) 1Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder of Toyota, offered the text of his statement before Congress a few hours prior to his appearance in Washington, D.C., to address to the global concerns facing his company and the recall of 8.5 million of its cars.

Here is the third of three parts of Toyoda’s prepared text:

“Since last June, when I first took office, I have personally placed the highest priority on improving quality over quantity, and I have shared that direction with our stakeholders. As you well know, I am the grandson of the founder, and all the Toyota vehicles bear my name.”

“For me, when the cars are damaged, it is as though I am as well. I, more than anyone, wish for Toyota’s cars to be safe, and for our customers to feel safe when they use our vehicles.”

Toyota Hearings: Akio Toyoda, 'We will invest heavily in quality' (part 3) 2

“Under my leadership, I would like to reaffirm our values of placing safety and quality the highest on our list of priorities, which we have held to firmly from the time we were founded. I will also strive to devise a system in which we can surely execute what we value.”

“Third, I would like to discuss how we plan to manage quality control as we go forward. Up to now, any decisions on conducting recalls have been made by the Customer Quality Engineering Division at Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.”

“This division confirms whether there are technical problems and makes a decision on the necessity of a recall. However, reflecting on the issues today, what we lacked was the customers’ perspective.”

“To make improvements on this, we will make the following changes to the recall decision making process. When recall decisions are made, a step will be added in the process to ensure that management will make a responsible decision from the perspective of ‘customer safety first.’ ”

“To do that, we will devise a system in which customers’ voices around the world will reach our management in a timely manner, and also a system in which each region will be able to make decisions as necessary.”

“Further, we will form a quality advisory group composed of respected outside experts from North America and around the world to ensure that we do not make a misguided decision.”

“Finally, we will invest heavily in quality in the U.S., through the establishment of an Automotive Center of Quality Excellence, the introduction of a new position – Product Safety Executive, and the sharing of more information and responsibility within the company for product quality decisions, including defects and recalls.”

“Even more importantly, I will ensure that members of the management team actually drive the cars, and that they check for themselves where the problem lies as well as its severity. I myself am a trained test driver.

“As a professional, I am able to check on problems in a car, and can understand how severe the safety concern is in a car. I drove the vehicles in the accelerator pedal recall as well as the Prius, comparing the vehicles before and after the remedy in various environmental settings.

“I believe that only by examining the problems on-site, can one make decisions from the customer perspective. One cannot rely on reports or data in a meeting room.”

“Three — through the measures I have just discussed, and with whatever results we obtain from the investigations we are conducting in cooperation with NHTSA, I intend to further improve on the quality of Toyota vehicles and fulfill our principle of putting the customer first.”

“My name is on every car. You have my personal commitment that Toyota will work vigorously and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers. Thank you.”

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