Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater has been appointed by Toyota to lead a new and independent panel that will advise the company's North American operations on quality and safety issues. This panel will be investigating Toyota's electronic throttle system that has been dragged into the issue of the recall of Toyota and Lexus vehicles in this country.
Toyota executives assert that electronics can't be blamed for the unintended acceleration problems. There are many who oppose this explanation. One of those is Southern Illinois University professor David Gilbert who thinks that the electronic throttle systems would cause the runaway cars.
Toyota divulged that the panel will have a limitless budget and will have access to studies that were conducted on Toyota's electronic throttle system.
Yoshi Inaba, president of Toyota's North American Operations, said that he is glad that Secretary Slater has accepted its invitation to head the talented group of safety and quality experts "who will help Toyota to improve its quality controls in North America."
Inaba gave a statement about the company's commitment for "more transparency" with regards to safety and quality controls. Inaba said that the company is prepared to cooperate fully with the independent advisors.
The panel is set to work with Toyota's North American leadership team and will soon have direct access to Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda. The full list of names of who will serve at the panel has not been announced yet. Slater, who was transportation secretary under President Bill Clinton, will have some involvement in the selection process.