The world's largest vehicle manufacturer, Toyota, is putting safety first by reassigning top engineers and executives to new safety-related duties. A move that will no doubt reflect the company's new attitude for the future. Nonetheless with the key staff away on side projects, the company may suffer slow product development.
The restructure will also see Toyota expand its Human Resources department with the announcement of the Design Quality Innovation Division (DQID).
With a team of 50 staff, the new DQID will see customer feedback find its way into product development a lot quicker than before. Toyota has been criticised for not listening to its customers, this can be viewed as a sign of change.
The extra layers of bureaucracy at Toyota, which include task forces and rapid response teams come on the back of the rapid expansion of the Big T and its global recall crisis.
Toyota, which is eager to improve safety and prevent future relapses, admits rebalancing resources may delay product plans as a result of the company shake-up.
Seigo Kuzumaki, project general manager for vehicle safety, told Autonews that Toyota would review the product development plan so that it was not strained.
"Some product projects are already under review," says Kuzumaki.
Toyota concedes that before the GFC even hit, the Human Resources team was struggling to meet international growth demand.
St. Angelo, the newly appointed chief quality officer for North America, who has been charged with improving the flow of information, plans on creating a new rapid response team and improve resources to turn the HR from a weak to a strong link.
Kuzumaki says shifting resources to safety and being more consumer-focused is needed to meet customer needs faster and improve customer satisfaction.
"One lesson we learned is that customer expectations are higher than what we thought they were. Whether that leads to a slowdown or not, we are taking these measures because we want to respond to the needs of our customers quickly," says Kuzumaki.
Toyota Australia began a new phase in the company's profile today with the launch of the Rukus (review on that coming soon).
Source: Automotive News