| -

TOKYO — This week, Toyota laid out some plans detailing how the automaker intends to ensure quality and safety levels for its vehicles across the globe.

For instance, as a part of Toyota's first meeting of its Special Committee for Global Quality, the automaker announced it has decided to increase the number of technology offices in North America from one to seven.

Additionally, Toyota indicated it will establish seven offices in Europe, six offices in China and other offices in other regions.

Moreover, officials said the company will strengthen on-site information-gathering capabilities with regard to suspected quality problems.

One example is that in the U.S., a Swift Market Analysis Response Team, or SMART, will conduct "on-site inspections as promptly as possible." The team will consist of specially trained technicians.

Continuing on, Toyota said it plans to expand the use of event data recorders in cooperation with authorities.

To ensure the committee's plan to better address quality issues is enforced, the automaker said it will have third-party experts from each region evaluate quality improvement measures on a regional basis.

"Toyota will also enlist four third-party experts to review the quality improvement measures adopted by its Special Committee for Global Quality," officials highlighted.

The plan is for the early results to be available by June of this year.

The automaker is also working on establishing a specialized organization on safety within technical divisions to quickly and accurately reflect customer feedback to bolster vehicle development.

A brake override system will also be included into new production models starting this year to better ensure customer confidence.

Finally, the company plans to launch Customer First Training Centers by July 2010 in Japan, North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and China, to "cultivate quality assurance professionals in each region."

Discussing the inaugural meeting, Akio Toyoda, TMC president, said, "Today, we held the inaugural meeting of our Special Committee for Global Quality. Among the participants were the chief quality officers for the principal regions where we operate. Those officers are close to the customers in their regions.

"We have brought them together to let them share with each other and with us what they are hearing from their customers. All of us on the Special Committee for Global Quality will work together in using our findings to regain consumer confidence," he continued.

Ultimately, Toyoda said the framework the committee decided upon is designed to ensure that regional input receives "full consideration" for recall and safety matters.

"The chief quality officers hear directly from customers in their regions, and so they will participate in recall and other safety matter decision making at our global headquarters," Toyoda explained.

"That will be in connection with their work in providing timely input through the Special Committee for Global Quality about customer complaints, product defects and the progress of recalls and other safety measures in their regions. We are counting on the new framework to optimize our decision making both regionally and globally," he stressed.

Finally, Toyoda said, "In closing, let me emphasize my overriding focus in launching the Special Committee for Global Quality. That focus is on listening carefully to the voice of the customer as the crucial key to regaining consumer confidence. In that spirit, we will be working closely with our dealers and with our suppliers to implement the measures adopted by the committee. We will be doing everything possible to regain consumer confidence. And I invite you to monitor our progress carefully."