Toyota is still in "crisis" mode a year after being hit by a wave of more than 12m recalls, according to board member Shinichi Sasaki.

He told the Financial Times that he did not think the company was through its problems yet, adding: “If we step down the level of our efforts at this point in time, it may mean we are sowing the seeds of crisis once again."

Toyota is working to rebuild an image plagued by safety recalls in the past year over unintended acceleration, engine, steering and brake problems. The crisis prompted US congressional investigations as Toyota was hit with a record US$16.4m fine to settle claims it had hidden accelerator pedal defects blamed for dozens of deaths. It still faces lawsuits in the US.

Last month Toyota announced a global safety recall of about 1.5m  vehicles to fix a brake fluid leak.

The company has become more aggressive in catching possible defects as part of a campaign to improve its consumer image, although some analysts have warned that frequent recalls could damage Toyota’s branding as a quality carmaker.

Since the crisis the company has appointed regional quality control officers, introduced measures to respond more quickly to reports of vehicle problems and has expanded training.

Sasaki also told the FT that Toyota was the world's largest automaker because of recent problems at General Motors and would not "despair" at losing the title. He added that the company is actively seeking foreign or female members for its all-male board as it looks to broaden its corporate culture.