Monday, September 22, 2014

Why Jim Lentz may not know about overseas recalls

Transcript of Jim Lentz sworn testimony before the House Energy & Commerce Committee, February 23, 2010

Mr. Markey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Lentz, it seems to
me that Toyota got the first dilemma back in 2000 when the British
ordered a Lexus recall due to acceleration problems. Toyota got a
second alarm back in 2003 with the Canadian recall. Toyota is a
global corporation. Those two alarm bells should have sent your
engineers scrambling to figure out what was wrong and what was
needed to be done to fix the problems. Instead, the same types of
problems cropped up in additional Toyota models, resulting in the
recalls that bring you here today.
So instead of deploying your engineers after Toyota got those
early warnings in 2000 and 2003, they waited until problems
cropped up in the United States, and then Toyota deployed lawyers
and lobbyists to convince the Department of Transportation that
this was a small floor mat issue and not something more serious.
And that, Mr. Lentz, has done a disservice to Toyota's customers
and ultimately also to Toyota's dealers and to Toyota's employees.
So according to documents obtained by my office, Toyota recalled a
Lexus in the United Kingdom in 2000 and a Celica in Canada in 2003
because of floor mats were entrapping the accelerator pedal and
the exact same problem that has caused fatalities in this country.
Why didn't Toyota take immediate action to prevent the much later
accidents when Toyota clearly knew the problem existed as far back
as 2000?
Mr. Lentz. Specifically on those two incidences, I can't
tell you the specifics of those because I do not know. But I can
tell you that a weakness in our system has been that within this
company, we didn't do a very good job of sharing information
across the globe. Most of the information was one way. It would
flow from the regional markets, like the United States, Canada or
Europe back to Japan.
Mr. Markey. So what you are saying is that ultimately the
decisions are made in Japan and that notwithstanding problems that
are identified in the United Kingdom, in Canada, the information
goes back to Toyota headquarters in Tokyo and whether or not you,
in America, are given orders to correct the problem identified in
other countries, is not in your hands, is that what you are
Mr. Lentz. Correct.

Now Jim goes on to say that "things are changing" and they are setting up a global quality control committee under the direct supervision of Akio-kun.

However, this global committee has not uttered one public word in English in the four years since the hoopla of its setup. What has it been doing? To whom is it accountable? Certainly not the public. If it were really operational, and if global models are similar, as we can presume that they are according to Jim's testimony, maybe the Saudi recalls for sudden acceleration and for BOS and cruise control malfunctions would have already expanded to the United States to help ensure the safety of US customers. They haven't, and no one knows just why.

Jim says he is responsible for sales but not for quality.