By on February 23, 2010

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda will give the following prepared statement in his testimony before the House Oversight Committee tomorrow [via WOKV].

Thank you Chairman Towns.

I am Akio Toyoda of Toyota Motor Corporation. I would first like to state that I love cars as much as anyone, and I love Toyota as much as anyone. I take the utmost pleasure in offering vehicles that our customers love, and I know that Toyota’s 200,000 team members, dealers, and suppliers across America feel the same way. However, in the past few months, our customers have started to feel uncertain about the safety of Toyota’s vehicles, and I take full responsibility for that. Today, I would like to explain to the American people, as well as our customers in the U.S. and around the world, how seriously Toyota takes the quality and safety of its vehicles. I would like to express my appreciation to Chairman Towns and Ranking Member Issa, as well as the members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, for giving me this opportunity to express my thoughts today.

I would like to focus my comments on three topics – Toyota’s basic philosophy regarding quality control, the cause of the recalls, and how we will manage quality control going forward.

First, I want to discuss the philosophy of Toyota’s quality control. I myself, as well as Toyota, am not perfect. At times, we do find defects. But in such situations, we always stop, strive to understand the problem, and make changes to improve further. In the name of the company, its long-standing tradition and pride, we never run away from our problems or pretend we don’t notice them. By making continuous improvements, we aim to continue offering even better products for society. That is the core value we have kept closest to our hearts since the founding days of the company.

At Toyota, we believe the key to making quality products is to develop quality people. Each employee thinks about what he or she should do, continuously making improvements, and by doing so, makes even better cars. We have been actively engaged in developing people who share and can execute on this core value. It has been over 50 years since we began selling in this great country, and over 25 years since we started production here. And in the process, we have been able to share this core value with the 200,000 people at Toyota operations, dealers, and suppliers in this country. That is what I am most proud of.

Second, I would like to discuss what caused the recall issues we are facing now. Toyota has, for the past few years, been expanding its business rapidly. Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick. I would like to point out here that Toyota’s priority has traditionally been the following: First; Safety, Second; Quality, and Third; Volume. These priorities became confused, and we were not able to stop, think, and make improvements as much as we were able to before, and our basic stance to listen to customers’ voices to make better products has weakened somewhat. We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organization, and we should sincerely be mindful of that. I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced.

Especially, I would like to extend my condolences to the members of the Saylor family, for the accident in San Diego. I would like to send my prayers again, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

Since last June, when I first took office, I have personally placed the highest priority on improving quality over quantity, and I have shared that direction with our stakeholders. As you well know, I am the grandson of the founder, and all the Toyota vehicles bear my name. For me, when the cars are damaged, it is as though I am as well. I, more than anyone, wish for Toyota’s cars to be safe, and for our customers to feel safe when they use our vehicles. Under my leadership, I would like to reaffirm our values of placing safety and quality the highest on our list of priorities, which we have held to firmly from the time we were founded. I will also strive to devise a system in which we can surely execute what we value.

Third, I would like to discuss how we plan to manage quality control as we go forward. Up to now, any decisions on conducting recalls have been made by the Customer Quality Engineering Division at Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan. This division confirms whether there are technical problems and makes a decision on the necessity of a recall. However, reflecting on the issues today, what we lacked was the customers’ perspective.

To make improvements on this, we will make the following changes to the recall decision making process. When recall decisions are made, a step will be added in the process to ensure that management will make a responsible decision from the perspective of “customer safety first.” To do that, we will devise a system in which customers’ voices around the world will reach our management in a timely manner, and also a system in which each region will be able to make decisions as necessary. Further, we will form a quality advisory group composed of respected outside experts from North America and around the world to ensure that we do not make a misguided decision. Finally, we will invest heavily in quality in the U.S., through the establishment of an Automotive Center of Quality Excellence, the introduction of a new position – Product Safety Executive, and the sharing of more information and responsibility within the company for product quality decisions, including defects and recalls.

Even more importantly, I will ensure that members of the management team actually drive the cars, and that they check for themselves where the problem lies as well as its severity. I myself am a trained test driver. As a professional, I am able to check on problems in a car, and can understand how severe the safety concern is in a car. I drove the vehicles in the accelerator pedal recall as well as the Prius, comparing the vehicles before and after the remedy in various environmental settings. I believe that only by examining the problems on-site, can one make decisions from the customer perspective. One cannot rely on reports or data in a meeting room.

Through the measures I have just discussed, and with whatever results we obtain from the investigations we are conducting in cooperation with NHTSA, I intend to further improve on the quality of Toyota vehicles and fulfill our principle of putting the customer first.

My name is on every car. You have my personal commitment that Toyota will work vigorously and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers.

Thank you.

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15 Comments on “Akio Toyoda’s Prepared Statement...”

  • avatar

    I think we need to crank up the heat on that hot seat. He’s not squirming enough.

  • avatar

    Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our next contestant here on “Dancing with the Cars,” that tap-dancing artful dodger, Aik-eee-yo-yo Toyoda!!!

  • avatar

    So long and the short of it, we still don’t know why these cars are accelerating out of control.

  • avatar

    Looks like he picking out lice.


  • avatar

    Says many of the right things, but somehow seems to be missing something too.

    Still too much soft? Not enough hard facts? And so seeming too fluffy … I don’t know …

    I want to believe it is sincere, and I would prefer not to be cynical, but that is where I am right now, cynical, and disappointed … (but in whom, Toyoda for not delivering, or myself for being jaded?)

  • avatar

    I also had a VW with a ton of problems. And so did everyone else I know. Even some people I don’t know had problems with them. VWs suck, and it’s about time these guys were called on the carpet. My next car’s going to be a Toyo…uh…er…I think I’m on the wrong article. Sorry TTAC. Please forgive.

  • avatar

    Unfortunately, the man is in a no win situation.I have to say that I feel a little sorry for him. He got caught up in the machine. I have an Uncle that lived in Japan for a while and he explained to me how Japanese culture works. I’m sure he is sincere in his feelings regarding the deaths that have occured, and i’m sure the man has had many sleepless nights feeling that he is ultimately responsible. I guess we can only gauge his sincerity by Toyota’s actions going forward. I however, am ultimately responsible for the safety of my family, and have to make decisions accordingly. I will probably wait for a while before buying another Toyota. We had planned on buying a new 2011 Avalon, however I have been seriously looking at a new 2011 Hyundai Sonata. It seems to have everything we have been looking for, along with exceptional fuel economy. Toyota really screwed the pooch with some of the decisions that they made, and will now unfortunately have to live with the consequences.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “We had planned on buying a new 2011 Avalon, however I have been seriously looking at a new 2011 Hyundai Sonata.”

    Hyundai is kicking almost everyone’s **** at the value for your money game these days.

  • avatar

    Let’s keep in mind that he is an executive, not an engineer. He cannot authoritatively make “hard” engineering statements. He creates the culture in which certain kinds of issues are valued and addressed in a timely manner.

    IMO, he seems to be taking this very seriously – independent evaluation of corporate practices and elevation of customer-reported issues are important steps.

    Given the incidence of reported failures across makes, other automakers should be very grateful they’re not the ones taking the PR beating.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    I’m sure Toyoda-san is sincere, and I’m sure his actions are affirmative.

    Problem for Toyota is, from the performance of the salesman they had testifying yesterday, Lentz, Toyota in NA is just like your basic car dealership… hustling customers.

    You can’t have bumbling salesmen running the store… you just can’t. It’s suicide, and we here know this better than anybody. Ford and GM and Chrysler have had salesmen running the shop for decades, running out volume, questing for market share, and look what that’s got them.

    Toyoda-san is acknowledging that Toyota made a mistake in pursuing this salesman-driven nonsense. Good. That’s root cause, same as here. Fix it, buddy.

  • avatar

    Whoever wrote that speech is good. Damn good.

  • avatar

    Translation- I am under extreme pressure by your government and NHTSA to try and sugar coat our lies, cost cutting and hiding manufacturer defects from the public for most of this decade so here is a blurb on what we should have been doing in the first place on the garbage we are selling to the world. I hired the very best writer to bring you this speech. Watching my companies stock fall is very painful!

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Maybe they can call Government Motors to the stand for Intermediate steering shafts that have plagued GM trucks (Including both of mine) for years? And while they are at it, can somebody please figure out why the brakes failed, the rear axles both went bad, my GMC puked up it’s tranny at 50 thousand and both 5.3 engines developed the nasty “like a knock” piston slap by the same 100 thousand miles! I consider many of these to be safety related issues that GM has never come clean on yet affected mine and many, many others out there.


    Disgruntled (former) GM owner

  • avatar

    What’s good about all this hype surrounding Toyota is GM’s coverup that is currently going on regarding it’s compact vehicles’ steering problems will be swept under the rug as the government does what it can to take down Japan Inc.

    Leson learned? Don’t buy Toyota but don’t go near GM unless you are pro-union (who now has stake in their company) and enjoy the idea of a government run entity.

    Buy Hyundai, it’ll be like Toyota from 15 years ago.

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