Toyota Recall Report Sites Organizational Problems

In response to its massive, headline-making domestic and international recalls, Toyota Motor Corporation’s president, Akio Toyoda, developed the North American Quality Advisory Panel in March 2010. Recalls were linked to unintended acceleration issues, noted Bloomberg News.

The record <"">Toyota recalls, which took place in 2009 and 2010 were driven by complaints of sticky gas pedals and door mats that had the potential to jam gas pedals. “Toyota City” paid an historic $48.8 million in fines for how some recalls were carried out; some of its key officials, including its president, were called to Congress, said Bloomberg News.

The panel, which was led by Rodney Slater, former Transportation Secretary, reviewed the car maker giant’s operations for over one year before it released its report. The report, just released, found that, said Bloomberg News:

• Key issues included Toyota’s centralized structure, difficulty in believing the findings of external sources, and that it has no safety chief in place.

• Toyota “erred too much on the side of global centralization and needs to shift the balance somewhat toward greater local authority and control.” The flaws “hindered information sharing and contributed to miscommunication” and “delayed response time to quality and safety issues,” quoted Bloomberg News

• North American operations, which are currently divided by sales, engineering, and manufacturing units, should consider a unified structure and increased local authority for decision making.

• Toyota does not respond well to outside complaints of its vehicles, not taking criticism seriously. The carmaker “does not appear to treat feedback from external sources, including customers, independent rating agencies, and regulators, the same way,” quoted Bloomberg News. Because of this, the car maker initially handled consumer complaints over unintended acceleration issues, “with a degree of skepticism and defensiveness.”

• There is no direct management chain responsible for safety issues.

“We tried to call it as we’ve seen it,” wrote the panel. “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,” said Toyoda, quoted Bloomberg News.

Previously, NASA, the U.S. space agency, said it found no electronic issues that would cause the acceleration, following its; however, Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies and a member of the panel, said the report showed “deficiencies” in Toyota’s vehicle electronics. “NASA identified numerous failures in Toyota electronics that could lead to unwanted acceleration,” Kane said in an e- mailed statement, quoted Bloomberg News.

About a year ago, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles for unintended acceleration issues. Recently, Toyota announced it was recalling 2.17 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S. for flaws that could jam gas pedals, leading to instances of unintended acceleration. Worldwide, 14 million Toyota vehicles have been recalled over unintended acceleration issues over the past 18 months.

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