To make Toyota's US operations more autonomous, the carmaker is appointing Americans to the chief engineer post for vehicles sold in the country. Since last year, Toyota has been reported to have elevated three US engineers to head development of the Venza, Avalon and Tundra.
These efforts could be considered radical for Toyota when you consider its traditionally centralized corporate culture but after the recall crisis, this movement seemed to gather momentum. In 2009, two engineers were promoted. The third was appointed earlier this month.
At Toyota, chief engineers are highly important posts as they supervise all the aspects from development and design of a new model to its manufacturing and supply chain.
Previously, Toyota had depended only on Japanese engineers in this role even with the development of vehicles sold only in North America, such as the Avalon sedan or Tundra pickup.
In an interview last week, Shigeki Terashi, president of Toyota's North American technical center in Saline, Mich., said that Americans are now being promoted to top engineering spots in order to give local operations more input and autonomy.
Terashi said that localized chief engineers are better because they have more familiarity with the market, the customers, and the uses and conditions that the vehicle is subjected to.