As part of its efforts to improve its responsiveness to customer complaints, Toyota is adding six new product quality field offices (PQFO) around North America starting this month. The new offices are to be co-located with Toyota Motor Sales regional offices and focus on investigating and addressing customer issues like reports of unintended acceleration.

The first PQFO opened earlier this year in New York as a pilot project to address cold weather and corrosion issues. The San Francisco PQFO will open in July with a specialization in hybrid issues. The Jacksonville office will focus on heating and cooling while the Houston office will target truck issues.

Each office will be able to look into any issue and will be staffed with engineers and technicians that will work with dealers and Toyota's U.S. headquarters in Torrance, California to gather data from customers and determine the root cause of complaints. Understanding what customers are doing in the real world is a major component of Toyota's new quality efforts. That customer usage data will be incorporated into future test and development procedures in order to try to avoid the same problems on other products. Full details are available in the press release after the jump.

[Source: Toyota | Image: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty]
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TOYOTA TO EXPAND PRODUCT QUALITY FIELD OFFICES ACROSS
UNITED STATES AND CANADA
San Francisco Field Office Launches This Month; Seven North American Offices Planned
Significantly Enhances Field Data Collection and Technical Capabilities

TORRANCE, Calif., July 8, 2010 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA., Inc., today announced that it is expanding its Product Quality Field Office program to four additional US regional sales areas over the next 12 months, following the success of a pilot program launched in the New York region in late 2009. TMS also announced that it will officially open its newest Product Quality Field Office in San Francisco this month, and Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) announced that it will establish Product Quality Field Offices in Toronto and Calgary, for a total of seven offices across North America.

Staffed by technical and engineering specialists with expertise drawn from across Toyota's global operations, these Product Quality Field Offices strengthen Toyota's North American field technical presence and data gathering and reporting capabilities, enhancing the company's ability to detect, analyze and respond to customer and quality issues in the field.

Product Quality Field Offices are being established with the mandate to investigate specific field quality issues related to unique regional, geographical or environmental conditions in each area. The New York region office was developed to investigate the performance of Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles in cold weather climates, with an emphasis on corrosion issues. The new San Francisco office will focus on hybrid vehicle systems and durability, capitalizing on the high concentration of these vehicles in the California market.

Toyota is currently evaluating opening additional offices in Jacksonville, FL to focus on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and drivability; Houston, TX to concentrate on trucks and chassis components; and Denver, CO to study high altitude performance and SUV models. Offices in Toronto and Calgary will focus on extreme seasonal temperature changes and high road salt usage, as well as unique vehicle operating conditions.

"Everyone at Toyota is working aggressively to understand what our customers are experiencing and to respond quickly to their needs by enhancing our information gathering capabilities," said Dino Triantafyllos, Vice President, Quality Division, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing (TEMA). "The expansion of our Product Quality Field Offices initiative is one example of the significant changes we are making across our North American operations to help ensure that we are a quality-focused and responsive organization."

Product Quality Field Offices will also provide technical support to dealership service personnel and Regional Field Staff; and "specialized response" capabilities for Toyota's Swift Market Analysis Response Teams (SMART), which play a key role in Toyota's rapid-response investigations into customer reports of unintended acceleration.

The expansion of the Product Quality Field Office program is the latest milestone in Toyota's North American efforts to implement President Akio Toyoda's six-point action plan to improve global quality. The action plan includes a top-to-bottom review of Toyota's quality assurance processes in all aspects of its global operations including design, manufacturing and after-market support.