Headed by Mr Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, the team's primary role will be to investigate how Toyota manages future product safety recalls.
The formation of the team is part of Toyota Motor Corporation CEO, Mr Akio Toyoda's efforts to regroup the brand following a massive global product recall for unintended acceleration issues and subsequent US Congressional hearings into Toyota safety problems.
Mr Dino Triantafyllos, vice president of quality for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, is in charge of fast tracking safety-related discussions through Toyota in North America, improving the way Toyota addresses its safety recalls and playing a “key role in decision-making with regard to recalls,” according to a statement released today by Toyota in Erlanger, Kentucky.
“The aim of our new quality task force is to assure that all of us in North America listen and respond to the voice of the customer,” Mr Triantafyllos said in a statement.“My primary responsibility is to assure that we utilise all of the data at our disposal and that we promptly decide the appropriate action.”
Toyota's handling of its latest recall was heavily criticised in the US press with some outlets alleging that Toyota US knew of problems with unintended acceleration in some models long before taking actions to remedy them. Several US litigants are now involved in consumer lawsuits against Toyota.
Senior Toyota officials said all recall decisions were made in Japan and that US executives had no authority to order product recalls.
After meeting with presidents from all of Toyota's North American vehicle and parts operations yesterday, Mr St. Angelo will fly to Japan to meet with Mr Toyoda's newly established Special Committee for Global Quality on March 30. Mr St. Angelo will represent all North American quality improvements for the committee.
“The new organisation will open the lines of communication globally and enable us to respond faster here in North America to any concerns about our vehicles,” Mr St. Angelo said in a statement.“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.”
Toyota's US Quality Task Force will also enlist the help of former US Transportation Secretary, Mr Rodney Slater. Mr Slater will lead a separate and independent North American Quality Advisory Panel to advise Mr St. Angelo's Quality Task Force on improvements.