Toyota Vice President Sasaki-san makes speech on recalls

The speech below was made by Toyota Motor Corporation’s Executive Vice President, Shinichi Sasaki, at the Nagoya Press Conference, Japan, this morning. He explains how Toyota’s founding principles of “building quality into the process” and “customer first” influenced the decision to take the step of a recall, and why a recall was announced before a remedy was in place.

“Thank you all for joining us here today, when I know that you are all so busy.

We have issued a recall in the United States, Europe, China and elsewhere concerning improperly operating accelerator pedals.  To the users of all the subject vehicles and to our customers around the world, we sincerely apologize for the worry we have caused you.

Since our founding, our company principles have been based on our goal to produce highly reliable vehicles to the satisfaction of our customers.

While it is granted that all efforts are made to meet safety and quality regulations in each of the markets in which we operate, to take customer reassurance to an even higher level our engineering is conducted under high in-house standards and our production is conducted under strict quality-control management and inspection procedures.

From our beginning, the phrase “to build quality into the process” has been core to our efforts.  To this day, we are consistently developing human resources with a focus on imparting on each and every of our production team members a high sense of quality awareness.

Additionally, when it comes to taking care of our customers, we have a long practice of carefully gathering and analyzing post-sales information regarding quality and of conducting thorough investigations whenever an issue seems to be present.  Based on our thinking of “customer first”, we take appropriate action when we determine that measures are needed.

Regarding the recent announcement of improperly functioning accelerator pedals, as well, we earnestly listened to our customers and endeavored to detect whether a trend existed or not.

Meanwhile, as you are all aware, the issue concerning floor mats became apparent last fall. To address that issue, we decided on November 25 to implement measures that involved such things as changing the floor mats and reconfiguring the accelerator pedals.

Regarding improperly operating accelerator pedals, related to what I said a moment ago, although we were in the midst of investigating whether a trend existed or not, we judged that this issue was of utmost concern to our customers and – realizing that we could not betray the trust of our customers – decided to take the step of a recall.

When it comes to customer trust, of course, strengthening the level of quality management is naturally of utmost importance. But it is also important that we should take swift voluntary action, if there is the possibility of a problem, not to betray such trust.

Furthermore, we believe that informing our customers as quickly as possible after we decided to issue a recall was the proper action under our definition of “customer first”.  Normally in a recall, first the remedy is decided and then, only after there is a clear idea of when replacement parts will be ready, an announcement is made.  In the current case, however, from the perspective of making sure the customer always comes first, we judged that we should place priority on promptly issuing a warning, even at the risk of causing confusion in our sales and production operations.  We hope you will understand that this resulted in time passing between the announcement of the recall and the announcement of the remedy.

The entire specifics of the remedy, which drew on the entire resources of our company, was decided yesterday evening and announced by TMS [Toyota Motor Sales, USA].

Ideally, we would have liked to have provided such an explanation a little earlier, and we ask your forgiveness for our deciding to put priority on finding a solution first, which resulted in the delayed timing of this meeting.”

For details of the remedy, please see our post entitled ‘Recall fix: Toyota confirms plan‘.

Further information on the recall in the UK can be found on our FAQs page.