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Toyota chief aims to rebuild consumer trust after recalls

07-12-2010 15:55 BJT

Toyota Motor Corp is focused on restoring customer confidence as the world's biggest automaker revamps quality control efforts following its worst recall crisis, President Akio Toyoda said.

"Customers will make the judgment" as to whether Toyota has solved concerns arising from recalls, Toyoda told reporters yesterday in Nagoya, Japan. "We're doing everything possible to earn their continuing trust."

Toyota seeks to regain a reputation as an industry leader in quality even as it prepares to fix flaws in luxury Lexus models and faces continued US congressional inquiries over recalls of more than 8 million cars and trucks for defects linked to unintended acceleration. Toyoda told a House committee this year the problems arose partly because of the Toyota City, Japan-based company's rapid expansion in the past decade.

The automaker this week said it added 1,000 engineers to an expanded quality assessment group, is extending vehicle development time by about four weeks and is opening more regional offices in the US and Canada to more quickly investigate customer complaints.

The announcements came as Toyota demonstrated its engineering centers in Toyota City and Higashi-Fuji, Japan, that are looking into potential sources of sudden acceleration.

Not Stepping Down

Toyoda, 54, grandson of the company's founder, said he hasn't considered stepping down as president of the carmaker.

"I haven't overcome the crisis yet," he said. "Doing the kind of work I've done for the past year, it's no longer whether I want to step aside or not. I want people to understand the real Toyota."

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 29 said it needed more information from Toyota about the possible role of electronics as a cause of unintended acceleration and asked US sales chief Jim Lentz to meet with the panel, a fifth congressional inquiry this year.

The company was fined a record $16.4 million by the US Transportation Department for violating recall regulations.

Toyota, the world's largest seller of hybrid autos, is pursuing a multidirectional strategy that includes autos powered by hydrogen, batteries and other fuel alternatives, Toyoda said yesterday.

Tesla Prototypes

The company will take delivery of two rechargeable prototypes from Tesla Motors Inc this month. Both are Toyota models fitted with Tesla battery packs and motors, according to JB Straubel, Tesla's chief technology officer. The Japanese automaker said in May it would invest $50 million in Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, maker of the $109,000 Roadster electric sports car.

Tesla vehicles are powered by thousands of the small lithium-ion batteries used in laptop computers. Toyota wants to study that approach to see if it offers advantages over using larger types of battery cells, Toyota Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki said.

Toyota's American depositary receipts fell 14 cents to $71.07 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have declined 16 percent this year.

Latest recall from Toyota:

Toyota USA recalls 1 million Corollas in North America

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Toyota USA has begun to recall voluntarily some 1.13 million 2005-08 Corolla and Corolla Matrix cars sold in North America due to faulty engine control modules, the company said on Thursday. Full story >>

Toyota to recall 5800 Lexus from Chinese mainland

China's quality inspection authorities says Japanese car-maker Toyota is set to recall nearly 5,800 Lexus LS series sold in the Chinese mainland. The latest recall is due to engine defects. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine says the recall will begin on July 19th, and covers three imported models. Full story >>

Toyota recalls 92,000 Lexus for engine defect

Toyota has started recalling more than 90 thousand luxury Lexus and Crown vehicles in Japan today, over defective engines. It's the latest setback for the automaker that has been plagued by safety problems. Full story >>

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: China Daily

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