Oh, what a terrible feeling it must have been when Toyota's president, Akio Toyoda, had to sit down and write out this here mea culpa, mia maxima culpa for today's Washington Post. As the bad news continues to fall upon Toyota's bruised crown, we imagine that Mr. Toyoda realized that his company had reached the point where continued sound bite apologies (here's another one) isn't doing Toyota all that much good. As such, he put pen to paper and defends the Japanese giant in long format.

Maybe we could use a more charitable word than "defends." For Toyoda does take responsibility (in writing, at any rate) for Toyota's unintended failings and accelerating recalls. Says Mr. Toyoda, "We have not lived up to the high standards you have come to expect from us. I am deeply disappointed by that and apologize. As the president of Toyota, I take personal responsibility." Not a bad place to start from, we think.

Toyoda then goes on to explain about the Toyota's fabled andon cord. An andon cord is an alarm that any line worker at any Toyota plant can pull when there's trouble on the production line. Meaning that Toyota takes its vehicles's quality so seriously, that even the dude screwing in the ashtray (or whatever) can shut down production for the entire for an entire plant. Quote Mr. Toyoda, "Two weeks ago, I pulled the andon cord for our company." That's in reference to his decision to cease production of eight Toyota models.

He then goes on and explains what Toyota is doing to prevent things like ThrottleGate from happening in the future, starting with a "top-to-bottom review" of Toyota's global operations. Toyota will also be establishing the Automotive Center of Quality Excellence, essentially an engineering and quality clearinghouse. Toyota will also be putting together a "blue-ribbon safety advisory group" comprised of non-Toyota quality management experts to periodically review Toyota's business practices. The group's findings – and Toyota's response to those findings – will be made public. Lastly, Mr. Toyoda acknowledges that Toyota needs to investigate complaints from consumers more quickly. To that last bit we say, "Gee, ya think?"

[Source: Washington Post | Image: Junko Kimura/Getty Images]

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