Rattled Toyota Turns To Women, Foreigners For Help

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
rattled toyota turns to women foreigners for help

There is no “all clear” at Toyota. The company is still “on a crisis footing a year after the first of a wave of recalls of more than 12m vehicles.” This is the bottom line of an article the Financial Time wrote after talking to Shinichi Sasaki, the board member responsible for quality at Toyota. What is even more interesting: The article was put on The Nikkei [sub] newswire, which brought it to worldwide attention.

Sasaki makes some alarming statements:

“I don’t think the crisis is over. If we step down the level of our efforts at this point in time, it may mean we are sowing the seeds of crisis once again.”

Criticized for its insular, bureaucratic corporate culture, Toyota is contemplating the unthinkable: They are searching for foreign or female members for its all-male, all-Japanese board, Sasaki said. Diversity on a Toyota board? Someone call the police.

Sasaki is also preparing the public for the possible news that Toyota might hand the title “world’s largest carmaker” to GM. Sasaki said Toyota had won that race by default, and only because GM had serious engine trouble. Sasaki and Toyota would not “despair” if ToMoCo would become #2.

We had prognosticated last August that GM could dethrone Toyota this year. Everybody, including the perennial China-haters, thank China for buying much more than 2 million GMs this year.

Everybody thinks Toyota has left the crisis behind, but Shinichi Sasaki insists on disagreeing:

“If we truly feel all these people are looking and heading in the same direction as the company, we can say the crisis is over. But we’re still in the process of getting everyone looking in the same direction and taking the appropriate steps.”

Toyota was in a bad place (the U.S.A.) at a bad time. It got hammered by the recall affair. It lost market share in the U.S. and Europe. Ironically, GM did not pick up the share. Ford and Hyundai did. Toyota eyes the Korean competition with growing alarm.

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