Akio Toyoda, the fourth-generation family head of motor giant Toyota, addressed customers and the press again yesterday in a further attempt to save the company's reputation.
He outlined the company's strategy to deal with the safety concerns and recalls that have so damaged the reputation of the family-controlled business. "Since autumn, we at Toyota have worked hard to address each of a number of quality issues," he said.
"I have been considering the rapid growth in our manufacturing and marketing operations. And I have been eager to keep management decision-making close to our customers. We need to be where we can hear directly from our customers," he continued.
Toyota plans to establish a Special Committee on Global Quality, which Toyoda will head and will meet for the first time on 30 March.
He went on to admit there were still areas of concern that needed addressing. "But against this backdrop of our efforts, there are a number of points on which we need to deeply reflect." These points included the decision to recall the Prius.
He also attempted to reassure Toyota's customers. "We endeavour to provide customers with vehicles that are safe and reassuring," he said. "I look forward to fulfilling your highest expectations of our company," he concluded.
Despite this statement and the efforts of the company, Toyota's problems continue to pile up. Another safety probe, this time looking at Toyota's best-selling Corolla model, was also announced yesterday and the family business faces dozens of class action lawsuits in the US. The recall list already stands at 8 million vehicles, including its flagship hybrid range. (Click here to read our coverage of the story)
53-year-old Toyoda began as Toyota president in June 2009, but has received much criticism for his handling of the recall crisis. He is the first of the founding family to take the top job for 14 years. (Click here to read our coverage of the story) He took over during extremely difficult trading conditions for the automobile industry and is yet to see the company make a profit under his leadership.
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