• Feb 23rd 2010 at 2:27PM
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The Congressional hearings entitled "Response by Toyota and NHTSA to Incidents of Sudden Unintended Acceleration" may have started today, but the actual response by Toyoda – that's Akio Toyoda with a "D," head of the Japanese automaker – will come tomorrow.

If you plan on tuning in to see what interesting new information comes out in Toyoda's testimony, please allow us to direct you to his prepared testimony after the break. There you'll read about three separate topics, according to Toyoda: "Toyota's basic philosophy regarding quality control, the cause of the recalls, and how we will manage quality control going forward."

Perhaps the most telling part of Toyoda's testimony comes at the very end:
My name is on every car. You have my personal commitment that Toyota will work vigorously and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers.
Remember too that Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. President Jim Lentz will also go before the committee, where he's expected to reiterate that electronic problems are not the cause of the automaker's unintended acceleration woes.

Both Toyoda and Yoshimi Inaba's (Chairman and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales) comments are available after the jump. Both are suscint and to-the-point, but the real fireworks will happen during the questioning period at tomorrow's hearing.

Tired of Toyota recall news? Try out the recall-free version of Autoblog.

[Source: Committee on Oversight and Government Reform | Image: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty] PREPARED TESTIMONY OF AKIO TOYODA PRESIDENT, TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION


FEBRUARY 24, 2010

Thank you Chairman Towns.

I am Akio Toyoda of Toyota Motor Corporation. I would first like to state that I love cars as
much as anyone, and I love Toyota as much as anyone. I take the utmost pleasure in offering
vehicles that our customers love, and I know that Toyota's 200,000 team members, dealers, and
suppliers across America feel the same way. However, in the past few months, our customers
have started to feel uncertain about the safety of Toyota's vehicles, and I take full responsibility
for that. Today, I would like to explain to the American people, as well as our customers in the
U.S. and around the world, how seriously Toyota takes the quality and safety of its vehicles. I
would like to express my appreciation to Chairman Towns and Ranking Member Issa, as well as
the members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, for giving me this
opportunity to express my thoughts today.

I would like to focus my comments on three topics – Toyota's basic philosophy regarding quality
control, the cause of the recalls, and how we will manage quality control going forward.
First, I want to discuss the philosophy of Toyota's quality control. I myself, as well as Toyota,
am not perfect. At times, we do find defects. But in such situations, we always stop, strive to
understand the problem, and make changes to improve further. In the name of the company, its
long-standing tradition and pride, we never run away from our problems or pretend we don't
notice them. By making continuous improvements, we aim to continue offering even better
products for society. That is the core value we have kept closest to our hearts since the founding
days of the company.

At Toyota, we believe the key to making quality products is to develop quality people. Each
employee thinks about what he or she should do, continuously making improvements, and by
doing so, makes even better cars. We have been actively engaged in developing people who
share and can execute on this core value. It has been over 50 years since we began selling in this
great country, and over 25 years since we started production here. And in the process, we have
been able to share this core value with the 200,000 people at Toyota operations, dealers, and
suppliers in this country. That is what I am most proud of.

Second, I would like to discuss what caused the recall issues we are facing now. Toyota has, for
the past few years, been expanding its business rapidly. Quite frankly, I fear the pace at which
we have grown may have been too quick. I would like to point out here that Toyota's priority
has traditionally been the following: First; Safety, Second; Quality, and Third; Volume. These

priorities became confused, and we were not able to stop, think, and make improvements as
much as we were able to before, and our basic stance to listen to customers' voices to make
better products has weakened somewhat. We pursued growth over the speed at which we were
able to develop our people and our organization, and we should sincerely be mindful of that. I
regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am
deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced.

Especially, I would like to extend my condolences to the members of the Saylor family, for the
accident in San Diego. I would like to send my prayers again, and I will do everything in my
power to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

Since last June, when I first took office, I have personally placed the highest priority on
improving quality over quantity, and I have shared that direction with our stakeholders. As you
well know, I am the grandson of the founder, and all the Toyota vehicles bear my name. For me,
when the cars are damaged, it is as though I am as well. I, more than anyone, wish for Toyota's
cars to be safe, and for our customers to feel safe when they use our vehicles. Under my
leadership, I would like to reaffirm our values of placing safety and quality the highest on our list
of priorities, which we have held to firmly from the time we were founded. I will also strive to
devise a system in which we can surely execute what we value.

Third, I would like to discuss how we plan to manage quality control as we go forward. Up to
now, any decisions on conducting recalls have been made by the Customer Quality Engineering
Division at Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan. This division confirms whether there are
technical problems and makes a decision on the necessity of a recall. However, reflecting on the
issues today, what we lacked was the customers' perspective.

To make improvements on this, we will make the following changes to the recall decision-
making process. When recall decisions are made, a step will be added in the process to ensure
that management will make a responsible decision from the perspective of "customer safety
first." To do that, we will devise a system in which customers' voices around the world will
reach our management in a timely manner, and also a system in which each region will be able to
make decisions as necessary. Further, we will form a quality advisory group composed of
respected outside experts from North America and around the world to ensure that we do not
make a misguided decision. Finally, we will invest heavily in quality in the U.S., through the
establishment of an Automotive Center of Quality Excellence, the introduction of a new position
– Product Safety Executive, and the sharing of more information and responsibility within the
company for product quality decisions, including defects and recalls.

Even more importantly, I will ensure that members of the management team actually drive the
cars, and that they check for themselves where the problem lies as well as its severity. I myself
am a trained test driver. As a professional, I am able to check on problems in a car, and can
understand how severe the safety concern is in a car. I drove the vehicles in the accelerator pedal
recall as well as the Prius, comparing the vehicles before and after the remedy in various
environmental settings. I believe that only by examining the problems on-site, can one make
decisions from the customer perspective. One cannot rely on reports or data in a meeting room.

Through the measures I have just discussed, and with whatever results we obtain from the
investigations we are conducting in cooperation with NHTSA, I intend to further improve on the
quality of Toyota vehicles and fulfill our principle of putting the customer first.
My name is on every car. You have my personal commitment that Toyota will work vigorously
and unceasingly to restore the trust of our customers.

Thank you.



Chairman Towns, Ranking Member Issa, members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. My name is Yoshimi Inaba, and I am the President and COO of Toyota Motor North America and Chairman and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
As you heard today from Toyota President Akio Toyoda, and as the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations heard yesterday from Jim Lentz, President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Toyota is taking decisive steps to restore the trust of the tens of millions of Americans who purchase and drive our vehicles.

Our 172,000 team members and dealers across North America are making extraordinary efforts to complete our current recalls as quickly and conveniently as possible. We have rigorously tested our solutions and are confident that with these repairs, Toyota vehicles will remain among the safest on the road today. We are also going further, by installing advanced brake override systems in all of our new North American vehicles before the end of 2010 and in an expanded range of existing models as a customer confidence measure, and taking comprehensive steps to ensure strict quality control and increased responsiveness to our customers and regulators in the future.

As you have heard, Mr. Toyoda is leading a top to bottom review of our global quality control processes, and will seek input from independent safety experts to ensure that our processes meet or exceed industry standards. As head of Toyota's North American operations, I will be closely involved in this review. Working with our new Chief Quality Officer for North America, I also will take responsibility for ensuring that we improve our dialogue with U.S. safety regulators and that we take prompt action on any issues we identify to ensure the safety of American drivers.

In inviting me to testify today, the Committee asked me to address several issues with regard to our recent recalls. Let me summarize my answers here:

Our recent recalls address five separate issues that we have identified with certain Toyota vehicles. In total, some 5.3 million vehicles across 14 models are affected by one or more of these recalls in the United States.

The biggest recalls are for solutions our engineers have developed with regard to two specific mechanical causes of unintended acceleration. One involves all-weather or inappropriate accessory floor mats that when loose or improperly fitted can entrap the accelerator pedal. The other concerns accelerator pedals that can, over time, grow "sticky" with wear in rare instances. The solutions we have developed for both these issues are effective and durable.

With respect to possible accelerator pedal entrapment by the floor mats, Toyota recently designed a vehicle-based change that directly addresses the problem and announced the solution to the public in November 2009 as part of the safety campaign announced on September 29, 2009. Owners of affected vehicles can, in the meantime, drive safely by ensuring that they use only properly secured, appropriate floor mats.

With respect to sticking accelerator pedals, Toyota announced a safety recall in the United States in January to address this issue. The sticking condition does not occur suddenly and if it does, the vehicle can be controlled with firm and steady application of the brakes. We are confident that vehicles whose drivers are not experiencing any issues with their accelerator pedal are safe to drive, and Toyota dealers are rapidly completing the repairs on our customers' vehicles.
In both of these cases, Toyota thoroughly and carefully evaluated the technical aspects of these issues. However, we now understand that we must think more from a customer first perspective rather than a technical perspective in investigating complaints, and that we must communicate faster, better and more effectively with our customers and our regulators. Our recent, smaller voluntary recalls of certain 2010 Prius and Lexus HS hybrids for a software update to the braking system, certain 2010 Camry cars to inspect a power steering hose, and certain 2010 Tacoma trucks to inspect the front drive shaft all illustrate this new approach.

Chairman Towns, Ranking Member Issa and members of the Committee, I assure you that nothing matters more to Toyota than the safety and reliability of the vehicles our customers drive. We are committed not only to fixing vehicles on the road and ensuring they are safe, but to making our new vehicles better and even more reliable through a redoubled focus on putting our customers first.

Thank you.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sure would hate for that Toyota money to quit flowing into congressional pockets over a few recalls that have injured people and embarrassed the NHTSA, juniors education and that 4th home, gone just like that, I mean the cash for clunkers program was a win win for them, almost like it was designed for them, like they were in mind when it was written, like they were handing out pens to sign it,,, I have every faith in our government that they will do nothing as usual.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It is really annoying to hear how everyone is so delighted with this whole situation. There a recalls every day on almost every car. It is so clear how this whole problem is a battle ship that everyone on the american auto industry is riding to discredit Toyota. Everyone is yelling and crying at the top of their lungs about this as a PEOPLE KILLER! It is just too specific and sudden.

      There are people dying on Pintos still. There are Pintos on the roads. Anyone on a Pinto could die today or tomorrow. And there is NOTHING you can do about it. Get rear ended and you might burn.

      There needs to be a fix, but a realistic person or a competent driver could do something about the "unintended acceleration" (I am quoting to quote and not satire the term). You can turn off the engine, or change the gear, or put it on park or reverse.

      Still there needs to be something done. The problem is not the recall but the context. The context of other recalls have never been this vicious and I hate so say I feel and think that it is all because it is Toyota.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're right insomuch as saying the problem isn't because Toyota had recall or two. But the problem also is not because everyone is out to get Toyota, the reason that it has become a big deal is the way Toyota handled - and is still handling - the situation.

        The fact that it appears that they knew about the issue for a long time and covered it up, then when pressed, blamed it on the easiest thing, then when pressed further, blamed it on the next easiest thing, is what is getting people worked up. From an engineer's point of view, it doesn't look like they've really tried to get to the bottom of the issue. I'm sure consumers are feeling that way too, as that's rapidly eroding their confidence.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Hackman: Only if you're an incompetent driver. Neutral is only one click away on the shifter.

        Driving automatics has demolished a driver's ability to multitask. It was bound to happen. Many American drivers are menaces. My dad was killed in a head-on collision, not by a mechanical fault, but by another driver crossing the double yellow line.

        We're at risk everytime we get on the road, not from mechanical or electrical gremlins, but other drivers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @UCJR: I see what you did there. XD

        @EXP Jawa: Yeah they handle it very wrong. They should have come out and solved the problem when they had the first chance, but I don't see what they did as something new, something no one ever heard another big company do in a negative situation. I am all for making an example, and from this situation on taking matters of thins kind this way so everyone knows. If it just going to be a public display of justice that is never going to be repeated then I think it is a bit hypocritical.

        @HACKMAN: "Quite a different story for Toyota. And the death toll for Toyota over sudden acceleration is already higher." OMG!!!

        Again. " sudden acceleration " = people killer. Really?

        Like I said before, this issue has been overly dramatized and I think is because it's Toyota. The evil company that took the top manufacturer spot in the world!!! How dare they?!

        I want to see every CEO from every product that has a recall talk to the government, even if it is slightly related to a death. That is going to be the day I believe this reaction to this particular case is unbiased.

        " sudden acceleration " = death? No. It = turn off the engine. Know there is no power steering and the brake hydraulics don't work with the engine off. Please don't tell me a housewife needs an engineering degree to understand "the wheel gets really stiff and you really need to push like a mule on the brakes"

        Now that I think about it, throttle cables and throttle linkages have broken more often than electrical drive by wire systems. The gas pedal getting stuck on "go-babby-go" is nothing new. People have found ways of avoiding death in those situations.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Stop fooling yourself. It's common knowledge that all Pintos still in existence have some ridiculously overpowered V8 shoehorned into their engine bay, tubbed out rearends, fuel cells, and can run 9's. The only way they'll blow up is if the owner didn't hook the nitrous system up correctly. Or didn't time the new cam correctly and had some valve-to-piston contact.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As an opinion from an ex-Toyota employee (me) who worked in Toyota operations-related positions for many years, closely with the internal recall folk, quality has, is and always will be the top priority of the company. I used to visit suppliers who had plants producing various manufacturers' parts side by side, and it was always Toyota who required and had the highest standards of quality - bar none (not even European luxury brands that manufacture in the US).

      That said, the lack of recall until it became too late reeks of cost cutting overriding quality. Toyota may be better than other manufacturers in managing quality, but they still took the cheap way out and ignored the dangers. I do believe in the same situation for most manufacturers, they would have done the exact same thing though. In any case, this problem cannot be denied and Toyoda/Inaba should take the heat. Actually predecessors in the US, Funo/Press should too, but they left already...

      I would like to see some comparison of deaths caused by Toyota's vehicle malfunctions vs other manufacturers and also against manufacturers of other transportation means (i.e. Have failures of Boeing planes due to design caused any deaths?)

      FYI: I am not even a Toyota fan - in that I would never buy one for myself because they are so boring, but would still recommend family to buy Toyota's in a heartbeat.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder what type of car will transport him from the airport to to the hearing. It could be that Audi he used while in Europe but most but maybe something German, American, or heck even a Honda or Nissan would get him there. If he doesn't want to make it, may I suggest taking a Toyota.
        • 5 Years Ago
        you are obviously unaware that the audi that was used last time was because of the place contracting audi fleet cars, and not because each person gets to choose what car they want to use. learn your facts before trying to be a smartass.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I got the popcorn ready...
      • 5 Years Ago
      holy crap. he's letting toyota take the hit.

      ***popcorn ready***
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can you imagine one of the Ford family or the CEO of Ford or GM or any Euro car company being called ---and expected to appear--- before the Japanese Diet to apologize for mistakes or accidents ? Hypothetically of course, since they've never made any.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Only if their market allowed for the "free market" sale of our vehicles on their shore. Then we might have actually had the chance to screw something up over there.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sure, of course I can see that. If Ford had such a huge market share in Japan and was found to be overlooking serious safety problems, you KNOW they'd be there to apologize, superfast.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good Luck, Mr. Toyoda
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota should stop selling cars in the U.S.

      Problem solved.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So I am downranked for what I said, even though most of you want to see Toyota fail?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I feel pity for him.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyoda's team members count: 200.000. Inaba's 170.000. Speech quality check anyone?
        • 5 Years Ago
        They are just putting that in to make him sound more Japenese. Americans like silly accents, we shall forgive if you haveth a silly accent. I am pretty sure it's in our constitution.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It was pretty clear if you read both speeches that Mr. Toyoda included suppliers in his count and Mr. Inaba was only counting direct Toyota/Toyota dealership numbers. Maybe you should learn to quality check your reading abilities.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Esteva03, when your 80 and your gas pedal sticks wide open maybe you'll get it.
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