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Toyota fretting over quality

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TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp.'s top executives are growing increasingly concerned that the frantic pace of growth at the Japanese carmaker, which could become the world's largest next year, is hurting its reputation for quality.

The carmaker is running a "back to basics" campaign after its image was tarnished by a series of recalls of vehicles for repair, even as it prepares for a final push to take the coveted No. 1 position from troubled General Motors Corp.

Shinichi Sasaki, president and chief executive of Toyota in Europe and a former head of quality for the group, says new factories outside Japan and rapid recruitment of new workers at home have hurt the "built-in quality" culture. He points to the widely watched J.D. Power & Associates measure of quality and customer satisfaction, as well as the recalls, as prompting "very serious concern" at the top of Toyota.

"Competitors are catching up with Toyota in their J.D. Power scores," he said. "In some areas, especially Europe, our score is not good enough for our expectations."

Toyota has lost its position as the top mass-market brand in the J.D. Power table to GM's Buick, although Toyota's Lexus premium badge remains the overall best-rated.

The recalls in recent weeks have put a spotlight on this small but significant slip in quality. Last month, Toyota announced a recall of 1.27 million cars in Japan — its biggest ever — followed within weeks by a recall of 246,592 vehicles in Japan and the possible recall of an additional 1.05 million globally. In May it recalled 790,000 pickup trucks in the U.S. It has also recalled 160,000 Prius hybrid cars worldwide — particularly humiliating as the gasoline-electric cars are regarded as a symbol of the company's technical prowess.

The company says record production levels had put its suppliers under pressure. "When you are making more vehicles, everyone has to work harder and faster," Sasaki said. Faults have crept in: "Some are design defects, some are manufacturing defects."

Toyota's main suppliers, all of which are reaping record profits from Toyota's success, are hurrying to build extra production capacity to meet demand. But with Toyota expected to announce a plan this year to increase global auto production by 900,000 units to more than 9.2 million units in 2006 — a level that should allow it to pass GM — the pressure on suppliers is likely to increase, the company says.

In this environment, Toyota could be forced into making further recalls. So is the company sacrificing quality in its drive to become No. 1?

It would be a sin Japan's manufacturers have committed in the past. In the 1970s and 1980s, the country's car manufacturers sacrificed profitability, and eventually quality, to secure market share — a move that prompted an outbreak of anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S.

The recalls this time have another explanation. Toyota is suffering, Sasaki said, because less-experienced workers and new factories take time to adopt the company's culture of quality.

But there are more fundamental problems affecting all manufacturers. These include increased sharing of components across a number of models, which increases the effect of otherwise minor problems, and a stricter regulatory environment.

"The more parts you share, the more it magnifies the mistake," said Kurt Sanger, auto analyst at Macquarie Securities in Tokyo.

Toyota is setting up special centers in Britain and the U.S. to drive home the message that quality should be "built in," not imposed by post-production inspection and checks.


http://www.latimes.com/business/la-ft-toyo...dlines-business
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They're just growing too fast, and this is exactly what happens. If they had slowed it down and not been so pre-occupied with taking down GM, their reputation in the long run would be much better. Aside from all these recalls, I can gaurantee that there are plenty of other mistakes and problems that go unfixed, either because it's not worth it to recall them, or they aren't big enough to notice. Things like inproperly installed gaskets, seals, trim, to un-torqued bolts and nuts, are all things that happen when assembly line workers are pushed and new inexperienced workers are employed in massive numbers. These are the kind of problems that will show up when the current cars get in their 80's to 90k miles 6-8 years down the road (and stuff starts falling off literally), and are what makes people switch from Toyota to another brand when they're looking for a new car. Unfortunately, Toyota's mistakes in the last 6 months will cost them for many years to come, and are not limited to these recalls.
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I applaud any business that value's production of a quality product. Kudos to Toyota's statement - I guess I'd jaded from all of GM's lip-service when I say that I hope that their actions backup their words.
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They're just growing too fast, and this is exactly what happens. If they had slowed it down and not been so pre-occupied with taking down GM, their reputation in the long run would be much better. Aside from all these recalls, I can gaurantee that there are plenty of other mistakes and problems that go unfixed, either because it's not worth it to recall them, or they aren't big enough to notice. Things like inproperly installed gaskets, seals, trim, to un-torqued bolts and nuts, are all things that happen when assembly line workers are pushed and new inexperienced workers are employed in massive numbers. These are the kind of problems that will show up when the current cars get in their 80's to 90k miles 6-8 years down the road (and stuff starts falling off literally), and are what makes people switch from Toyota to another brand when they're looking for a new car. Unfortunately, Toyota's mistakes in the last 6 months will cost them for many years to come, and are not limited to these recalls.

[post="50882"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Being a bit rash are we? And you think Honda is perfect in this regard?

EVERY manufacturer has mistakes and makes defects.

How about that problem Honda has with automatic trannies? They've continually had this problem for years. Honda just can't build a proper automatic tranny. Who knows what other mistakes or "coverups" Honda may have :rolleyes: .

I don't see Honda admitting it's quality is falling, even though this is the case, just like Toyota.

I do agree on one thing; Toyota should stop focusing so much on rapid growth and increased production. They should refocus their efforts of continous improvement back into quality.
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Being a bit rash are we? And you think Honda is perfect in this regard?

EVERY manufacturer has mistakes and makes defects.

How about that problem Honda has with automatic trannies? They've continually had this problem for years. Honda just can't build a proper automatic tranny. Who knows what other mistakes or "coverups" Honda may have  :rolleyes: .

I don't see Honda admitting it's quality is falling, even though this is the case, just like Toyota.

I do agree on one thing; Toyota should stop focusing so much on rapid growth and increased production. They should refocus their efforts of continous improvement back into quality.

[post="51152"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I didn't say anything about Honda, and I could care less about Automatic transmissions, lol :lol:

Toyota has been growing very fast over the last couple years, and this is what happens when they can't keep up. They're trying to expand quickly in every direction. If Honda or GM did the same thing, chances are they would have trouble as well, although GM may fair better considering they've already been much larger than they are now. Edited by siegen
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I know. I didn't even bring up Honda in the first place. I'm a Toyota fan after all. Go Toyota! Take the evil American corporations down and assimilate their workers!! It's too late now, recalls or not Toyota is taking over!
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WASHINGTON (AP)--Toyota Motor Corp. (tm), which is challenging General Motors Co. (GM) to become the world's largest automaker, saw its number of recalled vehicles in the U.S. double in 2005, according to government records.

Overall, the number of autos ordered to be returned to dealerships for repairs was down considerably in 2005 - totaling about 16.6 million through mid- November, compared with a record 30.8 million the previous year.

Vehicles have been recalled in larger quantities since the mid-1990s and have fluctuated from year to year.

Automakers and analysts say that with more automobiles using shared parts or platforms, recall data does not always reflect a vehicle's quality or safety attributes.

In Toyota's case, analysts said it could be a function of the company's rapid development.

"It's really a factor of the rate of expansion, the speed at which they're growing right now," said Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for IRN Inc., a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based automotive consulting firm. Anytime an auto manufacturer opens new plants and ramps up production, "you open yourself up for some quality issues."

Ford Motor Co. (F) is on pace to have the most recalled vehicles of any automaker this year, with more than 6 million, fueled by the September recall of 3.8 million trucks and sport utility vehicles. Recalls for DaimlerChrysler AG ( DCX) and General Motors have declined this year.

Records compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show Toyota with 2.2 million vehicles recalled through Nov. 17, compared with 1.1 million in 2004. Toyota said its records show 2.4 million vehicles recalled this year.

The recalls are the most for Toyota in the U.S. in a single year. The Japanese automaker recalled about 210,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2003.

Toyota, frequently lauded in customer satisfaction and dependability surveys, is closing in on replacing GM as the world's biggest automaker. Recent data by CSM Worldwide, an automotive forecasting firm, estimated GM's global production at 8.65 million vehicles in 2005, followed by Toyota at 8.44 million.

Toyota is scheduled to open a new pickup truck plant in San Antonio next year that will produce an additional 200,000 vehicles that could close the gap or help them surpass GM.

Martha Voss, a Toyota spokeswoman, said that with the increased volume, "it would be normal to expect that recalls would increase." She noted the federal TREAD Act, enacted in 2000 in response to the recall of more than 10 million Firestone tires, redefined what constitutes a recall, making minor issues part of the reported data.

She noted that one of the recalls dealt with older pickups and SUVs that involved a rod linking the steering wheel and the tires, and did not reflect current production. Toyota also recalled about 75,000 models of its popular Prius gas-electric hybrid from the 2004-05 model years because of stalling engines.

Ford saw its recalled vehicles grow by about 1 million over the 5 million of 2004. The bulk of the recalls came when Ford called back 3.8 million trucks and SUVs because of a cruise control switch suspected of causing engine fires. It was the fifth-largest recall in history.

Kristen Kinley, a Ford spokeswoman, said that in some cases, the automaker issued a recall notice based on early testing before the vehicles were shipped to dealerships.

"Automakers are becoming more aggressive about doing recalls and doing them much quicker," Kinley said.

Recalls have become more common in the aftermath of the TREAD Act and have also been driven by fear of litigation and the launching of new vehicles, said Chance Parker of J.D. Power and Associates, which tracks vehicle quality and dependability.

Parker said his firm has not seen a direct link between increased recalls and reduced vehicle quality by a manufacturer.

"In some cases, if a recall is handled really well, we've had some customers becoming more satisfied because of the way the recall was handled," Parker said.

GM has recalled about 4 million vehicles this year, down from 10.7 million in 2004. Daimler-Chrysler saw a major drop - about 750,000 vehicles in 2005 compared with 5.8 million in 2004.

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"Anytime an auto manufacturer opens new plants and ramps up production, "you open yourself up for some quality issues."" Nissan, Canton
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remember the old tv commerical slogan? "You asked for it, you got it! Toyota!" toyota, you were asking to be number one. Are you sure you want it? the last place i worked at, they were always so picky hiring employees. then, inevtiably, they'd still end up hiring the drunkards, the one who never showed up, the one who couldn't do quality work. they were always so obsessed with the notion of hiring 'our kind of people' or 'someone who is a cut above'. But they were outsmarting themselves thinking that their business was a special place and that it was supposed to be a privilege to work for that company, and because of the great system and their culture and all that BS, it was what 'set them apart' and allowed them to do more work, cheaper, and higher quality. NOT. it was a bunch of pompous self righteous rhetoric from the bosses. then, when things went wrong, it was too easy to blame the employees. Looks like toyota may be starting the blame game onto everything but its own self. Toyota's had it easy, mostly Japanese workers. America and the rest of the world is not Japan. And you can't pick and choose your workers obsessively. Toyota has to learn that they need to make their processes and do their hiring under the notion of the available folks out there. If they are going to set up shop here, you're going to get the same workers as those making Nissans, Fords, etc. And they will make the same mistakes, regardless of whether its for Toyota or Ford or who. Toyota likely has not had to manage personnel and processes as actively as this quality job will require them to. in Japan, people are so automated, that toyota has taken everything they can do for granted. If you have 2 kids, its easy to manage them. Have 6, and whoa. It doesn't mean the kids are bad. You just have more dynamics to manage. Time for the media to beat up on Toyota if you ask me, you asked for it, you got it TOYOTA. Good luck with your soon to be new title of MEDIA WHIPPING BOY. Edited by regfootball
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Don't get your hopes up. You have to realise that even when GM gets knocked off of the #1 spot, the auto media will still be attacking it. Being anti-American buisiness is soooooo in!!!
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I know. I didn't even bring up Honda in the first place.

I'm a Toyota fan after all. Go Toyota! Take the evil American corporations down and assimilate their workers!! It's too late now, recalls or not Toyota is taking over!

[post="51420"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Evil American Corporations :angry:

You know that America is the largest economy in the world thanks to them, and you are wishing their doom :blink: what's wrong with you :huh: you wanna America become a 3rd world country :unsure:
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Uhhh...I think he was joking, imaj.
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Evil American Corporations  :angry:

You know that America is the largest economy in the world thanks to them, and you are wishing their doom  :blink: what's wrong with you  :huh: you wanna America become a 3rd world country  :unsure:

[post="51819"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I was indeed joking. I don't like Toyota at all, and I wish they would stop trying to take over. Their Truck commercials are funny though.

:Toyota:
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I was indeed joking. I don't like Toyota at all, and I wish they would stop trying to take over. Their Truck commercials are funny though.

:Toyota:

[post="51861"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Toyota, Honda.....it's all the same......right??

Shouldn't they all stop trying to take over?
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I was indeed joking. I don't like Toyota at all, and I wish they would stop trying to take over. Their Truck commercials are funny though.

:Toyota:

[post="51861"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


with the Integra in your sig it never occured to me that you are being sarcastic :lol: sorry :)
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