TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda says he plans to visit the United States to meet with dealers, employees, suppliers and customers to get a better handle on the recall crisis that has hammered his company's image and triggered Congressional inquiries.
Such a trip, which some critics say is overdue, would draw from Toyoda's business philosophy of “genchi-genbutsu,” Japanese for “go and see.” The maxim is a guiding principle of the Toyota Way and often cited as a secret to the success of the world's biggest automaker.
“I'm planning to visit the United States,” Toyoda said today at a press conference to announce a global recall of 437,000 hybrid vehicles, including the popular Prius.
“Our employees in the United States, our dealers, our suppliers -- each and everyone is working closely together,” Toyoda added, without saying when he planned to visit. “In my own words, I would like to explain the situation to the people concerned.”
Since last fall, Toyota has witnessed an outbreak of recalls worldwide to address the problem of unintended acceleration. The fix-it list for those recalls has climbed to 8.1 million vehicles.
But Toyoda was widely criticized for not publicly addressing the lapses in quality until the recalls landed in Japan last week with complaints about braking problems in the Prius.
The ensuing Japanese outcry led to today's recall of 437,000 hybrid vehicles worldwide and two rare public appearances from the company's president in the span five days.