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Toyota pushes out car development

2010-07-08 10:17
Toyota will reportedly extend the development cycle on new models in the latest attempt to address quality problems dogging the manufacturer.

Blaming the carmaker’s rapid expansion in the past decade for the recent squalls that have blighted Toyota’s long-standing reputation for quality, the company’s executive vice president Takeshi Uchiyamada told journalists on Wednesday that 1 000 engineers had been dispatched to deal with quality issues.

The team, including 100 “devil’s advocate” engineers, has swelled by 50% and product engineers now have an extra month to complete the development of vehicles.

"It's important for our engineers to look at a vehicle and see how customers might use it in ways that haven't been reflected in our testing," Uchiyamada said.

Autonews.com reports that the new teams will be more “neutral” in response to potential problems, adopting an “early detection, early resolution” policy.

Katsutoshi Sakata, general manager of the new design quality innovation division said, “In the past, we were not paying sufficient attention to the customer's viewpoint.

Often, our R&D people believed our technology was correct. We need to take a more objective standpoint, with a calm eye to detect problems more readily.”

However, Uchiyamada also placed some of the blame for Toyota’s quality issues on miscommunication between outside suppliers and contract engineers and said the carmaker would bring more engineering work in-house.

 “It is not just ‘supply to spec' and let the suppliers produce the part,” Uchiyamada said. “When we outsource, we would like to check the thinking of the suppliers' design, how they manufacture and how they do evaluation.”

Toyota has in the past months been hit by image-damaging recalls affecting millions of its cars, including the bread-and-butter Corolla model. 

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