By on March 21, 2014

Akio Toyoda

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.

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30 Comments on “Toyoda: Recalls Changed Thinking On Safety, Customer Focus...”

  • avatar

    I don’t get it…they pay 1.2 Billion to avoid criminal prosecution. So was it a criminal act or not? Payment of a fine with the government dropping the matter seems like a shakedown. And who gets the 1.2 Billion. Does some go to the victims or does it all go to the treasury.

    • 0 avatar

      The two are not mutually exclusive, but in case it looks more like a shakedown.

  • avatar

    Every Japanese technical paper I’ve ever read begins with this kind of We-So-Peacefur-and-Roving sort of boilerplate.

    Apparently they’ve deemed it fit for PR use as well. Must come from decades of playing to the occupation’s insistence upon Demokurashee while keeping the same old shogunates running in the background.

    • 0 avatar

      Is your icon a top view of a 1987 cressida wagon ?

    • 0 avatar

      > Every Japanese technical paper I’ve ever read begins with this kind of We-So-Peacefur-and-Roving sort of boilerplate. Must come from decades of playing to the occupation’s insistence upon Demokurashee while keeping the same old shogunates running in the background.

      It’s merely cultural formality. This may come as a shock but not everything ever is because of Murica.

      • 0 avatar

        Damn pest is buzzin’ around *me* now.

        Think I’ll light a stogie.

        • 0 avatar

          > Damn pest is buzzin’ around *me* now.

          If dumb thoughts being pointed out on a public forum offends you, consider keeping them in your head.

        • 0 avatar

          ^ speaking of which, perhaps you can help with the entomology here:

          You seem to have quite the habit of bringing up the squinty-eyed.

      • 0 avatar


        When the BBC took stock of their archive in the late ’70s and realized they’d managed to throw away a shockingly large percentage of the programs they made, they started canvassing countries who had bought their programming in the past.

        Conventional wisdom for 30 years interpreted the reply from Iranian television as “What in the name of Allah are you talking about?” as a somewhat rude blow-off. Then it was finally pointed out that at the time it was a formality to begin such correspondence with “In the name of Allah…” and the tone of the responder was totally misconstrued.

        Being aware of the boilerplates used in other cultures is important.

    • 0 avatar

      You have to admit, this plays way better than the “we’re really really sorry” from Barra. They admit the criteria for recalls has changed and move on.

  • avatar

    Toyoda, I think it provided a turning point for us to go back to our basic philosophy of “customers come first.”
    And it took dozens of people dying and close to $3 billion in fines and lawsuits to come to this conclusion. And how is this car company any different then any other car company?
    Business schools around the world will be studying this failure for many years to come.

  • avatar
    Pastor Glenn

    To me, and many other people, this seems as if it was possibly just an “extortion with menaces” successfully accomplished by a corrupt administration, against a company “too successfully” competing against two semi-state owned car companies.

    I guess the proof will be in the pudding.

    A few deaths in Toyota products versus several hundred thus far pinned on GM’s products.

    GM having obviously hidden its miserable parts quality and tried to avoid the recall (resulting in the deaths).

    I’d say a fine of at least 300% of what Toyota paid is due from GM.

    As I said, it’ll take some while to find out – but I suspect the “fine” on GM will be a pittance compared to what was levied on Toyota.

    Once we find this out, it should and will send a message to savvy companies of all stripes world-wide about whether they should put money into the U.S.

    Because if it works out as I suspect it will, what right-minded individual responsible for billions of investments would put money into a nation which could simply strip it of its property and monies at will, on a politically motivated whim?

    Rule of law? What rule of law.

    We’ll see, won’t we?

    • 0 avatar

      The rule of law actually says that the government can dissolve a corporation if it is not serving the public good.

      Unfortunately, they never take advantage of that one.

    • 0 avatar

      Simply an amazing post !
      Do you hate the USA as a whole, or do you just hate the U.S. companies that support millions of American jobs ? Do you have a Japanese flag on your front porch instead of an American flag ?

      At any rate your post can be perceived as extremely anti-American.

      • 0 avatar
        Pastor Glenn

        alsorl…. Un-American?! Since when is one’s own opinion, outside of the “thoughts” of the majority (who often get their “opinions” given to them on a platter by watching the stupid-box), un-American?If so, then I don’t want to be considered American, I guess.

        You should read some news originating from outside our U.S.A. some time, my friend, and you’d start to realize that the rest of the world’s opinion of us as a nation has plummeted like a rock. For one example; 80% of Russians had a high opinion of the U.S. as a nation after the collapse of the Soviet Union; now it is 20%.

        You should see what the rest of the world thinks of the U.S. administration pointing fingers at everyone else, while telling them how to live – at the same time as spying on everyone (against the Constitution and International Law), droning innocents, starting coups and paying for same in various nations worldwide and claiming still to have the moral high ground, and supporting “democracy”.

        Hypocracy with all capital letters, my friend.

        Not that it is just this current administration which has gotten the U.S. into this fix of soon-third-world status, if you let the scales fall from your eyes and look around a bit you’d realize it won’t be long.

        $17 trillion in debt. No real backing of the money supply (just as every other country but no other country is so far in debt). Police beating down people left right and center with no accountability (google “police brutality” and you’ll get nearly 35 million results – interesting that when I did it a few weeks ago it was 67 million results).

        If I were to fly a flag on my porch, it’d have to be upside down.

        Do I want this to be? By no means. Did I waste my time in the military when I was young? Apparently so. I defended a way of live which has been destroyed from within.

        • 0 avatar

          Dude, it’s all fun and games listening to a.m. radio host spew hate at the current administration. Yes, it’s called free speech. But, face the facts you sound like an anti-American towards the people that help build this country. You sound like a very sad human being that does not like America and rejoices when we suffer as a whole. Shame on you and your hate towards the USA.
          If you don’t believe in the United States return every S.S. check and don’t ever use your socialist Medicare.

        • 0 avatar
          old fart

          +1. GM should face the same music as Toyota . I can’t believe someone actually thinks it’s okay to basically murder people (when you know there is a problem killing people and don’t fix it that’s the same as murder) just because they are an American company. But people say that’s shooting yourself in the foot and hurting us .So what price is regular human life equal to ? Apparently a comfortable executive’s one.

          • 0 avatar

            Absolutely GM should face the same consequence as Toyota

          • 0 avatar

            Hey, I am no GM apologist by any means, and I do think they should face a fate equal to Toyota’s, but it’s a bridge too far to say they believe “it’s okay to basically murder people…just because they are an American company”. A design change was identified but never implemented. The problem was brought to light by an engineer driving his own vehicle, I believe. There were and are many good people working for GM, but there were also some maliciously bad decisions made from a primarily cost-perspective.

            Criminally negligent? Yes. Murderous? No. Language is important, and we tend to veer too far to extremes.*

            *I will admit to muttering to myself that Rick Wagoner should be extricated from whatever foxhole he’s been hiding in while crying over his lost birthright and brought up on charges of involuntary manslaughter. IF he can be shown beyond a reasonable to doubt to have know of this issue.

    • 0 avatar

      You really can’t compare the GM and Toyota situations, at least not yet. When this came to light for Toyota, is was from a 2009 accident. Why you think that the gov’t which took 4.5 years to come to this conclusion for Toyota is going to do something so quickly for GM in this case is a little odd.

      Now, the GM incident looks bad, very bad. I think they are going to be fined as well. But, one difference here is that Toyota made design changes that didn’t implement until the next design cycle, while telling that American public that there was no issue. Also, the sticky pedal situation was already known in Europe and Toyota wasn’t recalling until a later date, at the same time saying that only floor mats were responsible for the acceleration issues. Also, Toyota attempted to hide this data from the US Gov’t at the time.

      What you have to realize about this latest fine wasn’t for the actual SUA issues, but the attempted cover up and lies that Toyota was telling the gov’t. This very same thing is likely coming to GM, but as it took with Toyota, it might take 4.5 years.

    • 0 avatar

      Correct. Feeding the Christians to the Lions.The only problem areas for Toyota was US sourced parts not Japanese. GM had the same parts put in Pontiac.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Fines and judgments, even billion dollar ones, are simply license fees, the cost of doing business. Stiff executive jail terms, on the other hand, would permanently correct the problem.

  • avatar
    Pastor Glenn

    alsorl, I never listen to hate, don’t even have TV. I’m a Pastor. I like to search out reality and truth, even when it isn’t what I want to see or hear. Otherwise, how can good decisions be made, if one doesn’t have truth on their side? You may not believe in absolute truth, but I do. But I just told you I really am a Pastor, in fact a Lutheran Pastor.

    And I don’t hate my country; I just want it to return to something resembling my country. I’m required as a Christian to speak out against unlawfulness and injustice. Not just becuase I’m a Pastor.

    If you notice, I did not solely blame the current administration. So don’t put words into my mouth assuming I am what you believe to be a hater, or a right wing nutcase.

    In case it escaped your attention, NAZI (well regarded in many circles as being “far right wing”) stood for National Socialist Party. The far “left” and supposedly far “right” are so close to each other because they are both the same for all intents and purposes.

    But yes, why should over 300 lives be brushed off as inconsequential as probably will be the case? What is a life worth? Shouldn’t someone be punished for intentionally hiding the fault on these GM cars?

    • 0 avatar

      Mr. pastor. Do you follow the truths of pastors like Fred Phelps of westboro Baptist church? After reading your hate and anti Americanism your words you made my point.
      1. You would fly the American flag upside down.
      2. You would like to see GM get what they deserve. Possibly due to your anti American beliefs. Not just for making some mistakes.
      3. You want the old America. Is that the free America when a certain type of person knew there place ?

      If you are a pastor, God help your soul.

      After reading this. Shread up your Social Security and Medicare cards. I would not want you to admit being one of those Nazi socialist as you so eloquently stated.

  • avatar

    When I read and article like this, my first thought it, what else did you expect him to say? It is typical CEO talk saying we made a mistake, we have learned from it, we have been changed for the better. We are going back to listening to our customers more to understand their point of view.

  • avatar

    Nationalism does not matter. Many companies will do the expedient instead of the hard. I am tired of the bashing.

    Acknowledge the problem. Fix the problem. Move the right people in keep it from happening again.

    But, in this case Toyota has a bit of a corporate past. Koito Seating covered up crash test results for several thousand airline seats a few years ago. (Owned by Toyota)

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