LOS ANGELES -- Toyota is taking product development authority away from Japanese bosses and putting it in the hands of North American executives as part of its response to the quality crisis that slammed the company last year.
Until now, vehicles produced and even "designed and developed" in North America were overseen by a chief engineer in Nagoya. And local engineers and sales and marketing executives had to jump through a succession of hoops to get their way.
But not anymore, Yoshi Inaba, Toyota's top North American executive, said in an interview. Toyota last month adopted a new system that takes Japanese overseers out of the equation.
Vehicles unique to the North American market -- the Toyota Avalon, Venza, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra -- no longer will require painstaking and frustrating sign-offs from Japan at each step in the development process, Inaba said.
"We are going to implement the process from design to preparation for production to development, cost planning, and identifying and selecting suppliers," said Inaba, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. "All these processes are going to be 100 percent done here, without going back to Japan for approval."