Toyota begins battle to restore confidence with systems overhaul

Toyota's massive recall for brake pedal defects exposed weaknesses in oversight of its supply chain. Now the company is embarking on a series of steps to fix the problem and restore its battered reputation.

Toyota's massive recall for brake pedal defects exposed weaknesses in oversight of its supply chain. Now the company is embarking on a series of steps to fix the problem and restore its battered reputation.

Company president Akio Toyoda announced on Wednesday several ways the company plans to remedy the recall problem, including the installation new brake-override systems in all future models, quicker disclosure of defects in its cars and even perhaps testifying before U.S. Congress, if requested.

At the same time, Toyota is investigating complaints of steering problems in the popular Corolla compact car.

To date, it has recalled more than eight million vehicles for issues related to brake and accelerator pedals.

"Safety recalls are a very serious matters, and automakers are required to quickly report defects," U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

Toyoda said the company was overhauling its approach to quality control. Part of that plan includes the assembly of a special committee for global quality, led by Toyoda. Toyota quality head Shinichi Sasaki said the company was also identifying ways to more quickly alert drivers of potential problems.

During the press conference, Toyoda admitted that the company's aggressive pursuit of growth had come at the expense of quality.

"We so aggressively pursued numbers that we were unable to keep up with training staff to oversee quality," Toyoda said, as reported by the New York Times>. "We were also somewhat slow in collecting, analyzing and acting on complaints we received from our drivers."

The company's philosophy of production, "The Toyota Way," used to be the envy of global manufacturers.

U.S. government safety regulators are investigating whether the company had acted quickly enough in recalling vehicles for repair, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was seeking documents from Toyota showing when it first learned of pedal problems and when it formally announced recalls.

U.S. law requires manufacturers to notify the agency within five days of identifying a defect. If it's determined that Toyota waited too long, the automaker could be on the hook for up to $16.4 million.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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