Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the technology with dual sensors that backstop each other in monitoring Toyota accelerator pedals. It is the electronic throttle-control system.
TOYOTA CITY, Japan -- Hiroyuki Yokoyama, the top defect troubleshooter at Toyota Motor Corp., had just taken over as the company's general manager for quality when his first crisis hit.
It was 2005, and Toyota was recalling nearly 1 million pickups and SUVs in the United States that might have been equipped with faulty steering rods. It was a sign of things to come.
Four years later, after Yokoyama had been promoted to managing officer for quality and customer service, an even bigger crisis erupted.
"In this job, every day is a drama," Yokoyama, 58, said in an interview.
With cases of unintended acceleration piling up in the United States, a massive recall was announced to replace floor mats and make other fixes. That action in 2009 pushed Toyota to the top of the U.S. safety recall list for the first time ever, further battering the company's reputation for superior safety and reliability.
And left in the wake: numerous deaths and accidents, all blamed on Toyota.
The problems have mounted over the past decade as the automaker grew explosively on its way to ousting rival General Motors as the global No. 1.
Now with the world's biggest carmaker besieged by record losses, a series of legal challenges and unprecedented recalls, Toyota's quality czar is the point man in its quest for redemption.