Toyota working on U.S. overhauls to identify problems before they escalate

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 25, 2010

After a series of recalls that left Toyota Motor Corp.'s reputation tarnished, the carmaker is now focused on putting systems in place to catch problems before they escalate. Toyota aims to streamline its methods to collect field complaints from customers. Toyota will form more teams of engineers who can get to trouble spots fast and eliminate brewing quality glitches.

At a press conference to announce the recall of 437,000 hybrids, Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki said that the company wants to advance "information gathering" much further and for it to be done speedier as well.

He divulged that Toyota is already working with information technology companies to develop a better U.S. database to register and share customer complaint information.

It will also put up at least five more regional technical analysis centers where Toyota engineers can trouble-shoot local problems as they arise. Since last fall, Toyota has recalled 8.5 million vehicles to address complaints about unintended acceleration and braking glitches.

The recall of hybrid cars has a goal of addressing complaints that the brakes in the Prius momentarily slip. Toyota has received a huge amount of criticism for dragging its feet on some of the recalls.

The company retorts that it would have acted sooner but lacked early tip-offs from the field that there was trouble.

Sasaki explained that the vast size of the US market makes it increasingly more challenging to manage and share customer complaints than in Japan. Sasaki added that Toyota requires a more advanced network for U.S. dealers to report complaints back to the company.

Topics: toyota, recall, hybrid

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