The transport ministry issued Toyota Motor Corp. with a directive Friday to clean up its act, after finding fault in the automaker’s handling of information on car defects.
Toyota must report back to the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry by Aug. 4 on improvements it is making to its recall procedures. The ministry said Toyota must better handle safety information, including consumer complaints, so it will be able to issue more timely recalls.
The current and two former heads of Toyota’s quality control department are being investigated by police for alleged professional negligence over an eight-year delay in issuing a recall of Hilux Surf sport utility vehicles with faulty steering gear.
The ministry said Toyota could have issued a Hilux Surf recall more quickly if it had shared information on defects better among the sections that deal with recalls and design.
The world’s second-largest automaker recalled 330,000 Hilux Surf SUVs in October 2004, two months after a driver lost control of his and collided head-on with a car in Kumamoto Prefecture. Five people were injured in the accident.
Kumamoto Prefectural Police on July 11 sent their case to prosecutors on the three Toyota officials, who they alleged did not recall the model when they found out in 1996 about a defective relay rod in the steering system.
“We take this reprimand very seriously, and will take necessary measures to improve and reinforce our system,” Toyota Senior Vice President Masatami Takimoto told reporters after meeting with ministry officials. “If we had a comprehensive framework to manage auto defect information in place at that time. . . . I understand that the question now being raised in the – boils down to that point,” Takimoto said.
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