Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Causality and the Toyota Recall

Toyota has been under fire lately with its never ending recall notices.  The President of the company commented today saying,

We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organization, and we should sincerely be mindful of that

 I cannot figure out what that means.  I think what they are saying is that the recalls are because of Toyota's speedy growth. However, the real truth is that Toyota failed to stick to its quality standards and messed up.  There is no universal rule which says quality needs to suffer with an increase in size.  Toyota flinched from its legendary focus on engineering and design and probably sought to keep its costs low.  

Further, it is also clear from the memos that came out yesterday that its North American executives were more intent on misleading NHTSA over negotiating recalls rather than focusing on their core values - good engineering and reliability.  I am sure a bunch of lawyers also made money convincing Toyota's leadership that money can be saved by "convincing" NHTSA rather than try and address a design problem.

Toyota's case will probably be unique in automotive history. It stands naked and no longer invincible - not because it could not make quality cars, but because it chose not to.