Make us your home page

Toyota's culture has blind spots, safety panel finds

LOS ANGELES — An independent review of Toyota Motor Corp. has found that the automaker suffers from deeply entrenched structural issues that could compromise safety, even though no electronic cause has been found for sudden acceleration in its vehicles.

In a strongly worded 60-page report, reviewers found that Toyota has problems differentiating quality from safety, in part because of a "well-deserved sense of pride at being No. 1" that can "slowly and subtly transform into arrogance and foster complacency."

The study was conducted by the Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel and released Monday, slightly more than a year after the company formed the group to evaluate Toyota's safety culture in the wake of massive recalls over sudden-acceleration problems.

The panel, headed by former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, conducted dozens of interviews with Toyota workers, including president Akio Toyoda; academics; regulators; consumer advocates; consulting firms; and other industry experts.

Discarding the company's defense that it grew too fast, the report identified several major areas of deficiency within Toyota requiring improvement:

• A top-down management structure that limits local input about potential problems.

• Resistance to outside feedback related to the design and safety of its products.

• A failure to understand that safety problems are distinct from quality problems. (Quality refers to the execution of design and manufacturing.)

To deal with these issues, the panel recommended reforms for Toyota to consider implementing. At their heart, the recommendations focused on reforming the automaker's famed corporate philosophy, called "the Toyota Way," which dictates a policy of continuous improvement.

With that in mind, the report acknowledged numerous steps taken by Toyota to improve its corporate culture, including appointing a chief safety officer last month and making major reforms at the board level.

Toyota's culture has blind spots, safety panel finds 05/23/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 23, 2011 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Los Angeles Times.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  2. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  3. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  4. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  5. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.