Toyota Motor scrambled to reassure customers on Feb. 2 that it has not sacrificed its legendary safety to be world number one as its recalls spread to the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
The company has actively expanded overseas over the past decade to meet brisk demand for its cars, prompting critics to question whether its quality control has weakened in the process -- a suggestion the group denies.
"I do not think that the expansion of the production overseas has affected the quality," Toyota vice president Shinichi Sasaki told a news conference, at which he issued a fresh apology by the company for the massive recall.
"We have full trust in engineering and quality," added Sasaki, the first Toyota executive to talk publicly in Japan about the recalls since they spread around the world last week.
Toyota shares jumped 4.5% to 3,605 yen, recovering some of their recent heavy losses, as investors welcomed news that the company had found a remedy.
The company is still unsure what the financial impact of the recalls will be for the automaker, Sasaki said. "The cost is going to be high but we needed to do this," he said. "Before we worry about the impact, we should worry about the customers and the dealers."
Toyota is facing criticism that it failed to communicate adequately with customers. It took more than a week for the company to outline a repair program after the recall was first announced. "We gave priority to properly issuing a warning, even at risk of causing confusion," said Sasaki. "I apologize from the management for the delay and I hope you understand the situation."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010
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