As Toyota embarks on growth binge, what lessons did it learn?

TOKYO -- Despite all Toyota’s talk about rapid global expansion having triggered its recent outbreak of quality troubles, the world’s biggest automaker is back on the growth path.

The company just thawed out its frozen plans to build an assembly plant in Blue Springs, Miss., a year and a half after putting the project on ice because of the tanking economy.

But that isn’t the only new factory getting the green light.

In April, Toyota said it would open a new assembly plant in China in the first half of 2012. It will have an annual capacity of 100,000 units. And like Blue Springs, it will make the Corolla.

And this week, Toyota said it finally may build a second assembly plant in Brazil. That proposal has been in limbo since 2008, when Toyota announced it was buying the land.

So Toyota is back on the prowl -- expanding in three of the world’s biggest auto markets. All just months after President Akio Toyoda blamed its worst recall crisis ever on unbridled growth.

The problem of the past: As Toyota pushed into new regions, it overstretched its human resources, internal communications and ability to ensure uniform quality and practices.

Let’s hope Toyota has learned some lessons so history doesn’t repeat itself.