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Toyota president pinpoints date of quality decline: 2003

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Toyota president pinpoints date of quality decline: 2003

08:37 AM

The president of Toyota says 2003 was the turning point for the automaker's shocking decline in quality.

That's the point at which it passed 6 million vehicles and embarked on a growth curve that made it hard to apply the quality principles that made it such a force in the auto industry, President Akio Toyoda tells Automotive News in an interview.

He also says Toyota needs to wean itself off sales incentives in the U.S. and revive the sagging Scion youth brand.

Toyoda, grandson of the automaker's founder, told the News: "In 2003, we surpassed the 6 million sales mark, and after that the rate of increase kept growing...We look at that as the turning point...When we hit the 6 million mark, we maybe couldn't apply the Toyota Way as thoroughly as we should have."

The result was to stretch the company beyond the bounds in which it was able to keep up with the The Toyota Way, the fabled production system that put Toyota among world's most respected automakers. Toyoda says getting too big wasn't Toyota's only problem:

He blames the company's inability to communicate with itself around the world for part of the problem. That problem has made it appear like Toyota has tried to hide its troubles.

"Toyota doesn't go about hiding things and trying to deceive people," said Toyoda. "But if you are looking from the outside, and we are taking a long time to give a response or do something, they come to the conclusion that maybe we are hiding something."

The Scion brand will get special attention in trying to turn around Toyota. Sales are slumping there, especially in the U.S., with few new models.



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