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An independent advisory panel has been formed to help Toyota get a handle on its quality issues. With all of the current headlines relating to Toyota recalls and defects, the independent North American Quality Advisory Panel has been convened to study and give the automaker advice on quality and safety issues affecting its North American operations. Besides working closely with the North American leadership team, the panel has been promised direct access to the head honcho, Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda. Heading the group will be former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Rodney E. Slater, who worked under President Bill Clinton to pass safety legislation for the automotive and aviation industries.

Among the many things this group of experts will be looking at will be the electronic throttle control system (ECTS-i) found throughout the Toyota and Lexus lineup. The group has pledged transparency and says they will make their findings public, although it seems they will be relying mainly on an analysis of Toyota's own investigations and those of another independent consulting group, Exponent, of Palo Alto, California. But Toyota has given the panel "an unlimited budget to pursue its mandate" and "will be able to commission any additional outside reviews it deems necessary," according to the press release you'll find after the jump.

[Source: Toyota Motor North America]
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Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater to Lead Independent North American Quality Advisory Panel for Toyota

March 2, 2010 - New York, NY – Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMA) announced today that former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater will lead an independent North American Quality Advisory Panel to advise the company's North American affiliates on quality and safety issues.

The panel will work closely with Toyota's North American leadership team, and will have direct access to Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda.

"I am pleased that Secretary Slater has accepted our invitation to lead the distinguished group of safety and quality experts who will help Toyota to improve its quality controls in North America," said Yoshi Inaba, President and Chief Operating Officer of TMA. "We are committed to more transparency regarding our safety and quality controls, and the independent advisors will have our full cooperation and access to any information they believe they need."

This independent group of experts will also evaluate the electronic throttle control system (ECTS-i) installed in Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Its findings will be made public.

For its ETCS-i evaluation, the Quality Advisory Panel will have access to the results of extensive testing previously conducted by Toyota as well as a comprehensive, independent study being undertaken by Exponent, a leading engineering and scientific consulting firm located in Palo Alto, California. The panel will be able to commission any additional outside reviews it deems necessary and will have an unlimited budget to pursue its mandate.

"Over the years, Toyota engineers have extensively tested our electronic throttle control system and have never confirmed a single case where the ETCS-i was the cause of unintended acceleration. Nevertheless, given the recent speculation and concerns regarding unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, we believe it is essential to provide our customers and the general public with additional confidence in the integrity of our electronic systems," said Mr. Inaba.

Secretary Slater will be closely involved in the selection and approval of members of the North America Quality Advisory Panel. The group is modeled after Toyota's Diversity Advisory Board, which brings outside perspectives and accountability from some of America's most recognized leaders in diversity and other public policy fields to help Toyota shape and maintain its widely acknowledged commitment to diversity.

Background on Secretary Slater
Rodney Earl Slater is currently a partner in the premier public policy law firm, Patton Boggs LLP in Washington, D.C., with a focus on promoting a more secure, environmentally sound and sustainable global transportation infrastructure. He is also a Vice Chairman and Senior Advisor at James Lee Witt Associates, a leading advisory firm on public safety, disaster mitigation, continuity of operations and emergency management.

Mr. Slater served in the cabinet of U.S. President William J. Clinton as Secretary of Transportation from February 1997 until January 2001. During his tenure, Mr. Slater championed and received bipartisan congressional support for the passage of several historic legislative initiatives, including the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which guaranteed a record $200 billion in surface transportation investment through 2003, and the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21), which provides a record $46 billion to provide safety and security of the U.S. aviation system. As Secretary of Transportation, he also worked with Congress to secure passage of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (or TREAD) Act.

About Toyota
Toyota (NYSE:TM) established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants. There are more than 1,500 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in the U.S. which sold more than 1.77 million vehicles in 2009. Toyota directly employs nearly 34,000 in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design. Toyota's annual purchasing of parts, materials, goods and services from U.S. suppliers totals more than $20 billion.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow..the new 21st century American witch hunt officially begins.

      What are you good ol' boys gonna do next? Put Japan in the Axis of Evil and be the only country in the world to bomb another nation 3 TIMES with a nuclear weapon? All the while telling others they can't have one? LOL.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So....when did we drop those 3 nukes? The only ones I can recall are the two used in 1945......
        • 5 Years Ago
        You idiots are so freaking slow...I know there were 2...

        My point is I'd not be surprised if some people around here would want to drop another one on Japan now too.

        So to re-iterate...2+1 = 3.....WOW....how about that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nozferat = failed history class
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota funded. Sounds more like a marketing tool.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sound like a tool to kill are hopes of Toyota becoming exciting again...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Unlimited Budget? Sounds like a huge pool of money available sweep a lot of things under the carpet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Unlimited Budget? Sounds like a huge pool of money available sweep a lot of things under the carpet."

        Carpet? I think you meant "floormat".
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah Bob, we get it. You don't like Toyota or the Japanese. Why not preface your silly comments with that so I don't have to look to see what you've posted before.

      Cowboy Bob: "Jan 28th 2010 9:08AM I have said for years- 1. I live in The United States of America, 2. I earned a living in this country. 3. I raised my children here. 4. My kids raised their children here. 5. I will not buy a car made by former enemies who slaughtered my countrymen. 6. Yea, I'm old coot with old opinionated ideas, but I EARNED that right. 7. I now get some chance to tell you people who "chant" forign quality that "You might want to rethink some of this". Hell yea, We showed the way, and none of what you have today was made without old coots like me. Suck wind you "Toylet " buyers!"
      • 5 Years Ago
      I find that Tundra story pretty impossible to believe. I've basically soaked my Toyota in salt here for a bajillion winters and there's no corrosions on any electrical connections-believe me I've checked. Yeah there's the usual rust on all the nuts and bolts and it's a pain in the butt if you want to change your brake rotors. How would salt water even get onto most of the electrical connectors when they're inside the truck? Did your relative drive his Tundra into the Atlantic ocean or something?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Yea Me" & "Nozferat"--- First: My nephew is 57 years old, and does what he wants. Second: We found what we found, I don't lie. Third: Your right, I don't like Japanese cars, or any forign cars for that matter, and I ain't too fond of their buyers either. Last---I don't call you stupid or malign you for your opinions.....unless attacked. You're obviously not much for men, and I served with enough of 'em to know one.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yo Cowboy!

      I sure hope you've reported this to the NHTSA. If he hasn't, here's where to go to do so:


      The only way there will be anything else done is if there are as many complaints as possible for NHTSA to act on, so make sure he does/has done this TODAY!
      • 5 Years Ago
      226 and BOB:

      Run!!! The Japanese are coming!!!! Run for the hills!!!

      Why did your nephew buy a Toyota? You don't sound like the type to have a family member buy a foreign made product...shame on you for not holding onto those closed-minded, warped principles!
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Independent" is a term used loosely in this context. Althought I'm not fan of Toyota, this is assisgnment should be up for an Academy Award when it's completed. The Congresssional Leaders are on the take from the UAW and with the government being a partial owner of GM a conflict of interest is clearly visible.

      What they should do is as a outside entitity - say MIT to look into this situation and provide an assessment of the issue and then investigate the cause.

      My two cents
      • 5 Years Ago
      My nephew bought new and currently owns a 2008 Tundra. It has 78k on it in upstate New York winters. He has had the "FIX", and still has sudden acceleration problems. We put the truck on a lift and started looking at plugin electrical connections. There was green corrosion evident in EVERY SINGLE CONNECTION. We suspect that there are other corrosion issues that we cannot see that has something to do with this problem. Now, neither of us had a college degree, but we do know that a vehicle should NOT look like this. HELLLLOOWWWWW TOYOTA???!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let me get this straight,

      Toyota has quality issues and to help them fix that, the US GOVERNMENT is going to help. Yeah, okay. Well ain't that the pot calling the kettle black.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You did the read the press release I take it?

        Toyota is starting their own quality team and they hired a Former U.S. Sec. of Transportation to join the team....It's an independent team run and paid for by Toyota oxymoron at best...The US government is not going to help just some dude that used to work for the government took the job offer from Toyota...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota quality issues are impacting nonsafety areas as well.

      Hundreds of Toyota owners have signed a petition concerning
      issues associated with Toyota Paint.

      Body rusting issues have also been expressed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Honestly if you think Toyota paint quality is bad I suspect it's because you haven't really driven other vehicles. You should look at the paint problems Hyundai owners have-probably the weakest part of Hyundai's cars at this point.
        In all seriousness, for an economy car Toyota probably has the best paint quality out there of any car manufacturer. It's easy to complain about paint problems, but cars from every manufacturer have paint problems and Toyota happens to have some of the least.
        • 5 Years Ago

        You should look at the paint problems Toyora owners have-probably the weakest part of Toyota's cars at this point.
        According to your logic,
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