Intent on addressing and correcting its ongoing series of high-profile safety and quality issues, Toyota has announced the appointment of six independent experts to fill out its new North American Quality Advisory Panel. Heading this independent outside group will be former Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater, who was named to that post last month. The new members of the task force are Norman R. Augustine, retired chairman and chief executive officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation and former under secretary of the Army; Patricia Goldman, former vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board; Dr. Mary L. Good, founding dean and Donaghey Professor at the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management and a professor of Strategic Management. Brian O'Neill, former president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Sheila E. Widnall, Institute professor and professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
This independent group of experts will advise Toyota's North American affiliates on quality and safety issues and work closely with the company's leadership team as well was with newly-formed North American Quality Task Force, led by Chief Quality Officer, Steve St. Angelo. Toyota says the panel members will have "unfettered access to information concerning Toyota's quality and safety procedures." It will also have a direct line to Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda and to the newly-formed Special Committee for Global Quality, led by Mr. Toyoda. Finally, the panel will be empowered to commission and fund any additional outside reviews it deems necessary to pursue its mandate.
"Toyota is in the midst of a significant global effort to strengthen our quality assurance operations and set a new, higher standard for vehicle safety and reliability. We are committed to taking the steps necessary to exceed customer expectations in every way possible," said St. Angelo. "Engaging the experience and counsel of independent experts is a critical component of this process. We are honored to have each of these accomplished leaders partner with us to help ensure that we achieve our goals." The panel's first order of business will be to undertake a thorough evaluation of the automaker's electronic throttle control system (ETCS-i) installed in Toyota and Lexus vehicles -- and to make all findings on the matter public record.