‘Smoking Gun’ memo may seal Toyota’s fate

posted on:
March 11, 2010

author:
Staff

Memo released by Toyota today is “smoking gun” revealing safety sacrifices

bigt Smoking Gun memo may seal Toyotas fateReports have surfaced today that Toyota officials were forced to turn over a memo produced by its own factory workers in 2006, which raised their fears about safety issues in the manufacturing process. According to the TimesOnline, the memo is a “smoking gun” that proves management was made aware of a looming disaster due to an emphasis on profits over production standards.

The TimesOnline reports the 2-page memo was written by longtime employees and sent directly to Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe. The workers warned that they were witnessing a decline in craftsmanship and a rush in production that prevented adequate safety standards. They warned that increasing problems were piling up not only at the manufacturing level, but in the planning stages for new vehicles, according to the report.

MotorCrave reported yesterday that Congress had demanded access to the memo, which it reports was uncovered by the Los Angeles Times over the weekend.

The October 3, 2006 memo was sent by Tadao Wakatsuki, chairman of the All Toyota Labour Union, to Katsuaki Watanabe, president of Toyota Motor.

Written in Japanese, here are translated highlights:

  • Between 2000 to 2005 Toyota was forced to recall more than million cars, a higher proportion of total vehicle recalls than other carmakers.
  • Toyota faces a serious problem that could threaten the survival of the company if it is not more thorough in identifying problems and their origins.
  • The company is threatened by: combining vehicle platforms, the sharing of parts between models, the outsourcing of planning, a shortage of experimental data on prototypes because of shortened development time, a shortage of experienced specialists and an increase in working hours for employees.
  • We are worried about the processes that are vital for manufacturing safe cars, but that ultimately may be ignored … in the name of competition.
  • Requests: a priority on safety, a review of cost-reduction measures, better training for contract workers, a return to craftsmanship.
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