LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. will invest $50 million in a safety research center in Michigan with a goal of reducing traffic deaths and injuries as the automaker works to regain buyers' trust after record recalls.
The Collaborative Safety Research Center will operate at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, the company said Sunday in a statement. Along with Toyota engineers from the United States and Japan, researchers from the University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia will work on studies with the carmaker, said Chuck Gulash, a senior engineer at Toyota who will be the center's director.
“We're going to reach out to other safety experts across the country,” Gulash said in a phone interview. “Traffic safety isn't only the vehicle. It's the infrastructure, it's the driver.”
The center's creation comes as the company works to polish an image for safe, high-quality vehicles that was tarnished by recalls of millions of cars and light trucks in the United States last year, most for flaws linked to unintended acceleration. Toyota paid a record $48.8 million in recall-related fines and still faces about 400 lawsuits alleging lost vehicle value, injury or death resulting from the flaws.