Toyota Forms 'Quality Taskforce' in Wake of Safety Woes

The task force will implement an action plan aimed at improving quality, cooperation with regulatory authorities and creating greater regional autonomy.

Toyota Motor announced the creation of a North American "quality task force" as it struggles to repair its reputation in the wake of a series of mass recalls.

The task force will answer to Toyota chief executive office Akio Toyoda and will be responsible for implementing a six-point action plan aimed at improving quality, cooperation with regulatory authorities and creating greater regional autonomy.

Toyota has come under intense criticism for its handling of deadly safety defects which led to the recall of more than eight million vehicles worldwide.

"We are making fundamental changes in the way our company operates in order to ensure that Toyota sets an even higher standard for vehicle safety and reliability, responsiveness to customers, and transparency with regulators," said Steve St. Angelo, a top executive at Toyota's North American manufacturing unit who was appointed chief quality officer for the region.

"The new organization will open the lines of communication globally and enable us to respond faster here in North America to any concerns about our vehicles," St. Angelo said.

"In keeping with Akio Toyoda's mandate, North America will have greater autonomy and play a critical role in decision making on recalls and other safety issues."

St. Angelo will join his counterparts in Japan on March 30 for the first meeting of the automaker's special committee for global quality. The North American task force will also work closely with an independent advisory panel led by former U.S. transportation secretary Rodney Slater.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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