Toyota Australia has embarked on a renewed effort at bolstering its quality and customer service initiatives after the recent global recall crisis saw some 8.5 million vehicles recalled across the US, Europe and China.
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The Melbourne-based engineering team, which will represent Australia as part of a newly developed Asia-Oceania regional taskforce (centred in Thailand), will establish new measures aimed at improving engineering quality and response times in customer communications.

The regional taskforce, represented by three senior executives, will form part of a global safety committee that will collect information through its R&D divisions to ensure reforms in Toyota's quality control and safety are reported directly to Toyota Motor Corporation's president, Akio Toyoda at the firm's Japanese headquarters. The news comes just two weeks after Toyota's North American operations announced its own version of a similar plan.

Toyota Australia senior executive director of sales and marketing, David Buttner told CarAdvice yesterday that the measures are part of the brand's plans to tackle any future problems head-on, as Toyota vows to renew its commitment to customers.

"Toyota is doing everything we can to beef up quality controls, to better respond to customer needs and to ensure we continue placing customer safety first," explained Mr Buttner."The global quality committee means Australia's existing respected voice with Japan is being supplemented with the added strength of a regional voice,"The committee's charter is to ensure all Toyota companies do better in listening to customers by operating with a Customer First mindset in every aspect of our operations,"It will strengthen global communication and transparency; it will spearhead comprehensive improvements to the company's operations; and it will promote quality improvements around the world."

Toyota's new safety committee will also focus heavily on gathering information quickly and more accurately, as well as presenting any relevant recall or safety information to its customers in a more timely manner. Regional meetings will also be adjudicated by independent authorities to ensure a transparent and more balanced approach.

As well, Toyota Motor Corporation will form new "customer first" training centres in each region, including Asia-Oceania. The centres will allow staff greater access to regionally relevant quality, safety and communications training.

Toyota says the new centres highlight its customer-centric attitude and commitment to customer satisfaction, and that although Australia had not been directly affected by the unintended acceleration recall so prolifically covered in the media in recent times, its recent Toyota Prius 'brake feel' issue demonstrates how on a local level, the manufacturer moved quickly to address customer concerns, despite only two complaints.

As part of the Prius recall, local Toyota dealer principals took a proactive approach to customer service, telephoning all new Prius owners to arrange for their car's ECU to be reprogrammed. The simple adjustment, which took around ten minutes per vehicle, was carried out by Toyota technicians at Prius owner's homes or offices, often with the owner present.

Mr Buttner said that although he believes Toyota Australia's reputation was not adversely tarnished by the global recall crisis, measures such as those taken to ensure the prompt and thorough rectification of the Prius issue, and those planned for the near future, will ease the minds of local Toyota customers, restoring their faith in the brand's reputation for quality and reliability.