Toyota still hasn't done enough to empower North American executives and should appoint a single CEO for the region, says the head of an advisory panel that looked into the causes of the company's unintended acceleration crisis and other quality problems.
In an interview, committee chairman Rodney Slater, a former U.S. Transportation Secretary, also said the panel pushed hard for appointment of a top safety officer in Japan. An executive was named to the new position recently, but the committee still has questions about that official's authority and responsibilities.
The seven-member panel, which is paid by Toyota, was appointed a year ago after massive recalls triggered U.S. safety investigations and started to color consumer perceptions.
Slater, 56, said Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda will have to make bolder changes in Toyota's management and culture. The advisory panel's 60-page report says the company has not gone far enough to address safety and quality problems.
"Toyota's success hinges on the company's commitment to being the best rather than just being the largest," Slater said. "Our recommendations are a road map to help them get there. But it's not going to be a 2-foot putt, and it's a decision the leadership has to make."
The committee met with Akio Toyoda twice during the past year, most recently in March.