One day after Toyota agreed to pay a record $1.2 billion in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department resolving a criminal probe into the automaker’s handling of a recall involving unintentional acceleration in its vehicles, president Akio Toyoda proclaimed the recalls changed Toyota for the better.
Automotive News reports Toyoda, speaking before the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association this week, said the recalls “marked a shift in how Toyota and the industry think about safety”:
The criteria for recalls used to be compliance with laws or whether there are technical problems. Now, I think it has become whether the products can assure customers peace of mind.
Regarding recalls overall, Toyoda stated they were good for the “long-term perspective of the automotive industry’s sustainable development,” noting the tool allows for product improvement and finding countermeasures from problems that arise down the line.
Though he remained silent on the settlement, Toyoda said the experience prompted Toyota to alter its approach to quality:
I think it provided a turning point for us to go back to our basic philosophy of “customers come first.” It is getting more and more important to handle recalls by seeing things from our customers’ point of view.