Panel: Toyota blurs quality and safety

May 23, 2011 at 3:51 PM
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TORRANCE, Calif., May 23 (UPI) -- A panel funded by Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. said the company's focus on quality compromised safety concerns.

The company set up the Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel to review safety concerns after massive recalls were announced last year over sudden acceleration problems in a variety of Toyota vehicles, The Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The panel in a 60-page report pointed out that Toyota was so focused on quality that it even misnamed the panel, which should have had the word safety in its title, not quality.

The report also said that a company's "well-deserved sense of pride at being No. 1 (can) … slowly and subtly transform into arrogance and foster complacency."

The panel also found the firm's top-down management style makes it difficult to communicate problems up the chain of command. It also makes it hard for outside input to be heard, the panel said.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said, "The panel has given us further insights into how we can best achieve our vision of exceeding customer expectations with the safest and most responsible vehicles."

Rodney Slater, the former Transportation Secretary who chaired the panel said in a conference call Toyota is a "good company that has been a great company and has the potential to be a great company again."

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