Toyota Motor president Akio Toyoda on Monday met Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama and promised to improve quality control to regain consumer confidence in the automaker, which has been badly shaken by a recent spate of global recalls.
Toyoda also expressed confidence that sales in the North American market would begin to pick up from March after the company’s new car sales in the United States slid 8.7% year on year in February from a year earlier.
”I told him that we are going to strive to build better cars so people will say Toyota is once again a more transparent and customer-focused company,” Toyoda told Kyodo News following the talks with Hatoyama.
Hatoyama also welcomed Toyoda’s recent testimony during a US congressional hearing and his visit to China to provide an explanation on the safety issues.
”I asked for further efforts to firmly boost confidence,” Hatoyama told the news agency, adding that faith in safety was key to auto issues.
Toyota executives also briefed transport minister Seiji Maehara on measures to tackle the massive recalls that have expanded to over 8m vehicles worldwide.
In talks with Maehara, Shinichi Sasaki, Toyota’s executive vice president in charge of quality and customer service operations, said the company would work to create a system that will allow decisions on recalls to be made locally instead of only at its headquarters in Japan.
Maehara, the land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister, also told reporters he is arranging a visit to the United States from late April to early May to meet with transportation secretary Ray LaHood.
Meanwhile, on the market outlook in the United States, Toyoda said, ”Sales will definitely come back from around March,” a prospect likely boosted by the introduction of new sales incentives from earlier this month. ”We are pushing forward measures for recalls and a sales recovery at the same time,” he said.
Toyoda also met with economy, trade and industry minister Masayuki Naoshima, who called for his leadership in implementing steps to ensure the quality and safety of Toyota vehicles.
”I felt strong expectations in Toyota,” Toyoda told Kyodo after meeting the ministers. ”In order to respond to those expectations, we will work to recover trust as early as possible.”