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March 30, 2010

JAPAN: Toyota announces safety initiatives

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has unveiled a raft of new initiatives designed to allay customer concerns surrounding its recent worldwide recall following accelerator pedal issues.

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has unveiled a raft of new initiatives designed to allay customer concerns surrounding its recent worldwide recall following accelerator pedal issues.

The automaker convened the first meeting today (30 March) of its special committee for global quality, which announced it would incorporate a brake override system (BOS) into new production models, starting worldwide in 2010. The BOS will automatically reduce engine power when the brake and accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously.

Chaired by TMC president Akio Toyoda, the committee includes newly-appointed chief quality officers (CQO) for North America, Europe, China, Asia, Oceania, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Also present at the meeting were representatives from TMC’s business operations and others. 

TMC said its global committee would “investigate the causes of quality problems, including those that necessitate recalls, and re-examine the factors that affect quality in every phase of design work, manufacturing, marketing and service”.

“Safety executives,” will act on behalf of the CQOs concerning any recalls on a global basis. TMC said the CQO teams and other representatives who participate in recall decision-making will “promptly share information on customer complaints, defects and recalls with the global team members”.

Toyota highlighted the creation in the US of its Swift Market Analysis Response Team (SMART), a group of specially-trained technicians who will conduct on-site inspections.

Toyota plans also to increase the number of technology offices in North America from one to seven and establish seven in Europe, six in China, and other regional offices.

In North America, TMC will, in cooperation with the authorities, also expand the use of event data recorders (EDRs), which can record information regarding vehicle condition and driver operation.

In addition, Toyota will increase the use of remote communications functions, such as G-Book telematics to give self-diagnostic information to drivers and will consider a framework for storing that information. 

As part of its drive to boost its quality procedures, Toyota will also ask third parties from each region to evaluate quality improvement measures.

The company will also use four third party experts to review the quality improvement measures adopted by its Special Committee for Global Quality, with initial results to be released in June 2010. Toyota will equally establish a specialised organisation on safety within technical divisions.

Toyota said it will also set up ‘customer first’ training centres by July 2010 in Japan, North America, Europe, South East Asia, and China.

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