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Toyota's solution: Old plan in search of a new result

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Toyota's solution: Old plan in search of a new result

Automotive News -- February 22, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

In announcing the latest solution for a rapidly disintegrating situation, Toyota last week apologized for past actions, announced the formation of committees and appointed more people to ensure quality is never an oversight again.

In essence, it is history repeating itself.

Go back five years, and the record shows Toyota acted the same way during the quality and safety recall problems that occurred middecade. The company apologized and promised change, enacting high-level "Customer First" quality meetings driven by then-President Katsuaki Watanabe.

That effort obviously wasn't high enough on the priority list.

Why? Toyota was in pursuit of No. 1 at all costs. It became a victim of its own dizzying success.

President Akio Toyoda admitted last week that during the company's rapid expansion, "perhaps we weren't able to develop appropriate engineering skills and human resources."

Quality, the one pillar of Toyota's foundation, was neglected more than anything else, and the automaker is now paying the price.

It can't neglect that pillar again.

Today, as more committees are formed, brake override systems installed and new technical offices established, we are reminded of the concern Toyota shared about its previous safety issues.

A high level of customer loyalty may allow the automaker a free pass. But one thing in this spiral of uncertainty is clear: Toyota can't afford to repeat its mistakes again.

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