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The Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda appeared before a U.S. Congressional Committee this morning New Zealand time to answer questions concerning Toyota products sold in the United States.
Mr Toyoda advised the Committee that he was reorganising the company to streamline all quality decisions because the existing structure had not coped well with the huge pace of expansion in recent years, and added that this had resulted in lower quality which had affected some models, particularly in the North American market.
The challenges of globalisation and cross-cultural communication are a high priority for Mr Toyoda who confirmed his commitment to the founding principles of Toyota: putting the customer first and ensuring safe vehicles of the highest quality.
Toyoda also noted there is room to improve the way information is shared between Toyota's regional business units and to this end a new Global Quality process would be established.
The Congressional Committee also asked Mr Toyoda, who is the grandson of the founder of Toyota Motor Corporation, what comments he had regarding reports of unexplained acceleration in Toyota vehicles in the U.S. to which Mr Toyoda responded that all such reports were being closely examined by both Toyota and the U.S. National Highway Transport Safety Authority.
While Toyota has been unable to find any problems with its electronic systems, it has retained a highly qualified US-based electronics engineering company, Exponent, to conduct an independent analysis of the systems, the results of which will be made public to reassure all Toyota customers that their vehicles are safe.
CEO of Toyota New Zealand, Alistair Davis said today: "Despite our complete confidence in Toyota Japan we are pleased that President Toyoda has announced the independent investigation into this matter to reassure our customers."
Mr Davis confirmed that Toyota New Zealand had recalled 321 vehicles since the beginning of this year: 61 Avensis Wagons for a sticky accelerator and 260 Prius for a brake software upgrade.
"While these problems are minor compared with the recalls in the U.S. we are still very aware of the inconvenience to our customers.
"The issues Mr Toyoda mentioned in Washington affect New Zealand motorists too, and we are being vigilant regarding any reports we receive from our customers," adds Mr Davis.
Toyota New Zealand Chief Executive Alistair Davis or After Sales General Manager Paul Carroll are available for interviews from the company's Palmerston North office.
For more information or to set up an interview time, please contact:
Debbie Wapp, (06) 350 3472