Toyota 'Arrogance' Prompts Safety Flaws: Report

Panel cites 'complacency' at automaker
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2011 3:35 PM CDT
Toyota 'Arrogance' Prompts Safety Flaws: Report
An employee of Toyota Motor Corp. cleans the "Prius a," or "Prius alpha," a revamp of its popular gas-electric hybrid, during its launch in Tokyo Friday, May 13, 2011.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Toyota has serious institutional flaws that pose a threat to the safety of its vehicles, finds an independent review out today. The problems stem from a “sense of pride at being number one” that can become “arrogance and foster complacency,” says the report, conducted by a panel the firm convened a year ago to review its safety practices. The Toyota North American Quality Advisory Panel spoke with Toyota executives, academics, industry analysts, and a range of others, but was unable to deduce the cause of sudden acceleration in some cars.

The panel did, however, point to specific concerns about Toyota’s safety environment. Toyota, the report says, is stifled by a top-down management style; it doesn’t welcome external feedback about design issues; and it doesn’t recognize the key differences between safety and quality issues. Instead, the company “subsumes safety into quality,” investigators said—even though quality “refers to the execution of design and manufacturing,” the Los Angeles Times notes. Meanwhile, the company sees regulation as an “adversarial process.” The group was funded, but not overseen, by Toyota. (More safety stories.)

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