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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Toyota to delegate authority

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Toyota to delegate authority

Japanese carmaker to add 2 executive positions in U.S. to oversee quality issues, recalls, safety

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

Toyota Motor Corp. will create two senior executive positions in the U.S. as part of President Akio Toyoda's effort to delegate more authority to each region to monitor safety issues.

The automaker will appoint a chief safety executive to work full time on recalls and safety concerns and a higher-ranking chief quality officer who will sit on a Special Committee for Global Quality led by Toyoda.

"Virtually all decisions relating to recalls and safety matters are decided in Japan," said Jim Wiseman, spokesman for Toyota Motor North America. "This is an effort to elevate key North American executives in major positions of responsibility and authority in that process."

In congressional hearings this week, Toyota officials agreed that the concentration of decision-making power in Japan had contributed to the automaker's slow response to reports of potentially dangerous defects.

The system also failed to swiftly pass on reports about defects discovered in one region to the others. In one instance cited by U.S. safety regulators, Toyota recalled vehicles in Europe to fix pedals that could stick a year before company officials in the U.S. learned of the problem, even though Toyota's U.S. plants were making vehicles with pedals from the same supplier.

"We intend to share information in a more timely way in regions around the world," Toyoda said at a hearing on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He was accompanied by Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, who pledged to "work with the new quality chief and take responsibility to improve the dialogue with regulators."

The U.S. quality chief is likely to come from the top North American executive ranks. Toyoda's global quality committee will hold its first meeting March 30. The company also is forming a safety advisory board made of outsiders.

The U.S.-based chief safety executive will focus on recall and safety issues and may be attached to Toyota's technical center in Ann Arbor or manufacturing and engineering operations in Erlanger, Ky.

Toyoda traveled Thursday to Kentucky where he was met by Gov. Steve Beshear. Toyoda rode to the company's oldest U.S. plant, in Georgetown, where he greeted team members, as the line workers are called.

In a meeting with around 150 managers, he seemed overcome by emotion.

"He said the strength of the company is with our team members, that it's been a difficult time for the company in the last few weeks, but he knows our team members will sustain the company," Toyota spokesman Mike Goss said.

Earlier, before leaving Washington, Toyoda and U.S. Transportation Department Secretary Ray LaHood met and had a "cordial and open" discussion, according to Toyota.

"Mr. Toyoda ... reiterated his focus on putting customers first and making sure that going forward the company will do all it can to further improve communications and work more closely with the Department," it said.

LaHood, who testified before the same House panel as Toyoda on Wednesday, reiterated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had to push Toyota "every step of the way" to take safety actions.

Since November, Toyota has recalled 8.5 million vehicles worldwide, including some 6 million in the U.S., mainly to fix acceleration-related problems.

Referring to the new executive posts, CNW Research President Art Spinella said, "Having more eyes watching for quality issues is always a good thing."

But, he said, "this is not a communications problem. It is a hardware problem, and that's dealt with at the engineering stage."

Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Mass., said the company was trying to convey that it was responsive to all the criticism. "What they're trying to show is that they're re-evaluating everything, taking everything seriously, and assigning people to make change in the company."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100226/AUTO01/2260355/1148/auto01/Toyota-to-delegate-authority#ixzz0genaXweY

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when i saw the title.... delegate what?!

first sentence. duh, so it doesn't hurt the head of the company so much, less responsibility on Akio. this will likely have no impact, and might make things worse.

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Referring to the new executive posts, CNW Research President Art Spinella said, "Having more eyes watching for quality issues is always a good thing."

But, he said, "this is not a communications problem. It is a hardware problem, and that's dealt with at the engineering stage."

You can have a hundred pairs of eyeballs watching from some glass window onto the assembly floor if you want. When it's a quality issue with parts, or a stupid misprint on a sales window sticker, you need to be dealing with the speed and execution of repair, replacement and recalls. It's called, "Getting your $h! together."

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