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Toyota Quality Advisory Panel Recommends Decentralization, Better Communication

May 24, 2011

NEW YORK, NY – The North American Quality Advisory Panel formed by Toyota in the wake of investigations of unintended acceleration events has delivered its report to the automaker and published it publicly.

The panel identified three major areas that Toyota can address to improve its quality control processes. The areas the panel identified were balancing global and local management control, responding more effectively to problems raised by people inside and outside the company, and addressing safety-related management responsibilities at the company.

The panel’s report did state that the automaker has moved to address many of these issues since the group started its work.

“The Panel recognizes that Toyota has not only acknowledged many of the challenges addressed in this Report, it has also taken steps to address some of them—in several cases before the Panel had started its work. During the Panel’s second year, it looks forward to monitoring the implementation of those initiatives and their effectiveness in improving Toyota’s safety and quality processes.”

One of the key things to take away from the report is that Toyota needs to give its North American operations more independence and improve communication between operations in the region and in Japan. The report described North American operations as existing in regional “silos” and recommended greater involvement of North American operations in product design and development of vehicles slated for that market.

The report also recommended that executives in Japan work with NHTSA, rather than see the group’s activities as adversarial, and work to fully understand the perspectives of government officials and regulators in North America in general.

Other recommendations include appointing a Chief Safety Technology Officer to better focus efforts; expanded testing of new models to focus on potential drivability issues and distracted driving; creating a an independent “Customer Representative Team” that would seek out information, positive and negative, about Toyota vehicles, while focusing significant effort on safety – the team would report directly to Toyota’s President; and setting a corporate goal of achieving the highest possible safety standard ratings for all new models in regions that already have developed consumer-oriented safety regulations.

Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda responded to the report in a release from the comapany, saying, “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.” 

You can read the entire report here.

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