Toy­ota aims for dam­age lim­i­ta­tion as sales bring bet­ter news in UK

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - NEWS -

SHOW­ROOM tax and Toy­ota’s rep­u­ta­tion are in the news this week.

The Big T first. The havoc caused to its gold star rep­u­ta­tion by com­plaints of un­in­tended ac­cel­er­a­tion and de­fi­cient brakes and loose floor­mats con­tin­ues. Toy­ota is fac­ing law­suits in the USA for in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing fatal­i­ties, al­legedly linked to de­fects on some Toy­ota and Lexus mod­els. The fall-out in Europe is far less se­vere but the com­pany’s PR ma­chine has gone into top gear to limit the dam­age to its im­age and to get the prob­lems fixed.

Here’s a se­lec­tion from the last week or so: Its in­ves­ti­ga­tions in the USA have “cast doubt on a driver’s out-of-con­trol Prius claim”. Its UK re­call cam­paign has reached two-thirds com­ple­tion in six weeks; full­time work­ing has re­sumed at the Bur­nas­ton Auris and Aven­sis fac­tory; UK sales were up more than 15 per cent in Fe­bru­ary and hold­ing good in March.

In Ja­pan, its Spe­cial Com­mit­tee for Global Qual­ity (SCGQ) met for the first time. The com­mit­tee mem­bers in­clude the newly ap­pointed chief qual­ity of­fi­cers for North Amer­ica; Europe; China; Asia and Ocea­nia, and the Mid­dle East, Africa, and Latin Amer­ica. Their brief: to rep­re­sent con­cerns of cus­tomers. They will in­ves­ti­gate the causes of qual­ity prob­lems, in­clud­ing those that ne­ces­si­tate re­calls, and re-ex­am­ine the fac­tors that af­fect qual­ity in ev­ery phase of de­sign work, man­u­fac­tur­ing, mar­ket­ing and ser­vice.

Ad­dress­ing al­le­ga­tions that the com­pany cov­ered up me­chan­i­cal prob­lems for too long, Toy­ota will have third­party ex­perts from each re­gion eval­u­ate qual­ity im­prove­ment on a re­gional ba­sis. Toy­ota will ap­point four third-party ex­perts to re­view the qual­ity im­prove­ment mea­sures adopted by the SCGQ. Plans call for the ini­tial re­view re­sults to be re­leased in June.

In Bri­tain, it an­nounced it was “re­in­forc­ing cus­tomer con­fi­dence in the qual­ity and reli­a­bil­ity of its model range with a ground­break­ing new of­fer” of ei­ther a five-year war­ranty (from three years) or a free three-year ser­vice scheme. Kia al­ready of­fers seven-year war­ranty so one won­ders how this Toy­ota deal breaks new ground. More like it scuffs over the sur­face with a bit of weed killer.

Now if Toy­ota had of­fered five years and free ser­vic­ing, then that would have been ground­break­ing for a ma­jor car maker.

LOOKING UP: Full-time work­ing has re­sumed at Toy­ota’s Auris and Aven­sis fac­tory at Bur­nas­ton.

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