As part of efforts to reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries and as a means to restore trust, Toyota Motor Corp. will invest $50 million in a safety research center in Michigan. In a statement, Toyota said that the Collaborative Safety Research Center will operate at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor.
Toyota engineers from the U.S. and Japan will be working with researchers from the University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, according to Chuck Gulash, a senior engineer at Toyota who will be the center's director.
In an interview, Gulash said that the company will seek the help of other safety experts in the country. Gulash is quoted to have said, “Traffic safety isn't only the vehicle. It's the infrastructure, it's the driver.” Toyota’s reputation has been damaged due to the millions of vehicles recalled last year due to the risk of unintended acceleration.
The creation of this center is expected to help Toyota raise its image back to that of offering safe, high-quality vehicles.
To date, Toyota has paid a record $48.8 million in recall-related fines. And its troubles aren’t over as it continues to face about 400 lawsuits, which claim lost vehicle value, injury or death due to the defects.
Toyota clarified that its investment will be for studies over the next five years concentrating on reducing harm to children, teenagers and seniors. Gulash also said that Toyota’s existing staff and facilities in Michigan will be used for the research. [via autonews - sub. required]