TOYOTA CITY, Japan--Struggling to fix its quality problems, Toyota is reassigning top engineers and executives to new safety-related duties--a move that could slow product development and curb the company's breakneck expansion.
Since its global recall crisis erupted in January, Toyota has added layers of bureaucracy, including task forces, rapid-response teams, a business reform committee, even a new division--all to improve safety and prevent a relapse.
Now, as the world's biggest automaker shifts workers and resources from other programs, it is forced to re-evaluate some projects.
"We are trying to find the engineering man-hours for these quality issues," Seigo Kuzumaki, project general manager for vehicle safety, told Automotive News last week. The surging demand for engineers in safety is forcing Toyota to rebalance resources in product development while trying to keep products on schedule, he said. In some cases, that may result in slowed product development, but the company is trying to avoid this, Kuzumaki said.
"We will review the product development plan so that we don't have strains," he said. "Some product projects are already under review."
The safety executive did not say what projects are being looked at, and he added that "nobody is confused because we know what's to be done." … Read more