By on February 2, 2010

Today, Toyota gave a press conference in Nagoya, the first at Toyota’s home base to address the recall. Akio Toyoda was AWOL as usual. Instead, Toyota’s Vice President Shinichi Sasaki, who is also in charge of quality assurance, did the dubious honors. He did what he had to do: He apologized profusely.

“I’d like to offer an apology for causing anxiety among our customers around the world,” Sasaki said, according to the Nikkei [sub]

Sasaki said Toyota aggravated the situation by disclosing the problem before firming up countermeasures. By doing so, “we ended up creating mistrust in the market,” he said. “We prioritized customer safety, focusing on releasing solid information first.”

In a rather un-Japanese move, he passed a tiny bit of the blame:

“I was told by the president (Akio Toyoda) to make decisions that will not hurt our credibility. It is in this way that I have dealt with the issue, rather than thinking about the impact on earnings,” the vice president said.

Speaking of earnings,  Sasaki said that Toyota’s sales around the world will likely be hit severely in the wake of the recall. Sales the U.S. and elsewhere are already slipping, and given the severity of the recalls, Sasaki anticipates a double digit slide in Toyota’s global sales.

“Yabai,” as they say in Japan in an oh shit moment like that.

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15 Comments on “Toyota Quality Chief: “”I was told by Akio Toyoda to make decisions that will not hurt our credibility.”...”

  • avatar

    Not having a fix for the accelerators, and pulling the cars off showrooms was exactly the problem.

    When Toyota announced the recalls 5 days before pulling the 8 models of showroom floor it really didn’t make that much news. It only became the media frenzy after they stopped selling those cars.

    At the same time, I have to wonder how much control Toyota had in the timing of the recall.

  • avatar

    Sasaki said Toyota aggravated the situation by disclosing the problem before firming up countermeasures.

    Not quite, it was NHSTA that disclosed the problem. Another un-Japanese move by Toyota management.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “I’d like to offer an apology for causing anxiety among our customers around the world”

    Tsk, tsk, they keep leaving out the part about having killed some people …

  • avatar

    So he was told to basically lie.

  • avatar

    Let’s not be too hard on Toyota.

    After all, they’ve only known about this problem for…

    …oh, 7 years or so:

    “It’s hard to imagine that Toyota only started to take serious action on reports of its vehicles accelerating uncontrollably after four people in a Lexus ES 350 were killed after the sedan accelerated into an intersection and hit a SUV. When the crash took place on August 28 last year, Toyota had already received more than 2,000 complaints of unintended acceleration and endured multiple government investigations dating back as far as 2002.

    To make matters worse, it was only last week that Toyota issued several recalls for the millions of vehicles in the U.S. and overseas that could be defect and halted production.”

    • 0 avatar
      blue adidas

      It was the crash of the Lexus ES that brought this issue into the public eye. But, ironically, the loaner Lexus crash has nothing to do with the latest recall that addresses the CTS accelerators. The Lexus ES doesn’t have the CTS component, but rather had the Denso one. With the Denso unit, a design flaw in the shape of the pedal causes it to get hung-up on the floormat. For that recall, Toyota provided zip ties to hold floor mats in place. The only reason that they know this was not the issue in the case of the family of four that were killed in the Avalon is because they had removed their floormats and put them in the trunk for this very reason. The Avalon had the CTS units, which Toyota says they believe to have internal defects. Then there’s the throttle linkage that’s being investigated now also. I’m not sure Toyota knows what they’re doing.

    • 0 avatar

      blue adidas
      Vehicles with either pedal lack a brake over-ride. This is something that Toyota has not fixed in either case and needs to do quickly.

  • avatar
    Dr Strangelove

    Does anyone know for how long the CTS pedal assemblies have been used? Does it date back as far as the beginning of the unintended acceleration issue?

  • avatar

    Toyota is turning their problems into a 2010 version of the Perrier benzene problem of 1990. Both companies had a very tough problem to solve and mismanaged the news. Perrier eventually found a worker was at fault when he accidentally contaminated just a small number of bottles, however 160 millions bottles were recalled, and Perrier never recovered financially from their lost reputation for water purity.

    Toyota has blamed floor mats and users instead of the pedal that was designed too close to the floor.
    They have blamed CTS for the sticky peddles and left an impression that sticky peddles equate to unintended acceleration.
    They have glorified a shim with a fancy label of “precision cut steel bar” that is already becoming a laughing stock.
    They are apparently sneaking in a fail-safe fix to the ECU for only some model/years while avoiding any discussion about the unintended acceleration problem behind this fix.
    They are facing public investigations in Washington that will generate untold amounts of spin that Toyota will be unable to control.
    And to top it off, their CEO is unwilling to put himself forward as the place where the buck stops.
    This is Perrier all over again, and Toyota deserves the same results.

    In my opinion, they should shut down all sales and production until Washington is finished their investigation, take a hit of a few billion dollars which they can easily afford, and relaunch their sales when their story is clear. In the meantime, they should cut off all “too long peddles” and install “SHIMS” as a “TEMPORARY FIX” for recalled cars until their investigation is complete. That’s the only way they will get in front of this train wreck.

    Like the Tylenol problem, Maple Leaf Foods in Canada a year or so back, had a contamination problem in their packaged meats that was killing people. They immediately recalled all their meats and shut down their factories until the problem was resolved. They have since fully recovered their reputation and market share. Toyota should do the same before Washington forces them to do so.

  • avatar

    Have you been paying attention to the careful wording used in all of these apologies from the company over the past few days?

    They are sorry for causing people’s anxiety about their Toyotas — Really?

    That’s it?

    Of COURSE they are sorry about this, as it will hurt their bottom line!

    I’m still waiting for the first accident report with the floormats in the trunk AND a new pedal assembly (or the shim fix) installed . . . not that I want it to happen by any means, and I pray that it doesn’t.

    The explicit statements from Toyota that “This is not an electronics problem” suggest otherwise . . . Reminds me of the statements from many of the failed financial institutions in 2007 shortly before they went kaput: “Everybody keep moving along, nothing to see here, everything is fine”

  • avatar

    Is there any conflict of interest in a Toyota-crippling recall being urged by the NHTSA at the same time 67% US Gov. owned GM is offering special deals to Toyota or are we just not supposed to ask that?

    • 0 avatar

      Ask. The answer is no.

      NHTSA works off of complaints from consumers and manufactures admitting faults. This is not the gov’t going out and looking for problems with vehicles.

      All manufactures routinely run rebates for conquest sales. GM isn’t the only one doing this now with Toyota cars.

      It would be a conflict of interest if GM tried to get a recall issued against Toyota. That didn’t happen.

    • 0 avatar

      I realize that’s how the NHTSA works, and I realize that the answer to whether or not there was some “vast west wing conspiracy” is “no”…I assume. But that wasn’t really the point. The point is that with the current situation as it is, the question arises (its legitimacy aside for the moment). When a government stays out of the auto business, it’s credibility in such matters is more intact. As it is, the ability for the question to arise, regardless of the answer, is a problem, imho.

    • 0 avatar

      I think the legitimacy is very relevant, not that I think the gov’t should be in the car business. When you ask a question about a conflict of interest, when there clearly is none, the question doesn’t make any sense. At that point, it sounds like a conspiracy theory because you have to then start the questions with what if, when you don’t have a leg to stand on.

      But, you can apply this to many more ideas about gov’t. Like, congress voting to give themselves pay raises, to me that is a conflict of interest.

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