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Management Shake-Up Coming at Toyota

Major reduction planned for board and senior executive ranks, say reports.

by on Feb.15, 2011

Toyota may slash its upper management ranks.

In the wake of a year of crisis that saw the Japanese giant pay record fines to the U.S. government, recall 11 million vehicles and face the wrath of Congress, Toyota is reportedly planning a major shake-up in its senior management roles.

The maker to reduce the size of board of directors by nearly 40%, from 27 members to 17, according to various sources.  Toyota also will make sharp cuts in the number of managing directors, executive directors and possibly other senior positions.

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The move appears to be motivated by a variety of factors: first, to make the company more lean and nimble and speed up the decision-making process.  Toyota paid a record $48.8 million in fines levied by U.S. regulators, last year, because of delays in responding to safety defects.  Insiders blame that, at least in part, to the company’s oversized bureaucracy.

But the cuts may also be part of a strategy by Toyota President Akio Toyoda – grandson of the company founder – to purge powerful elements within the automaker’s upper ranks that had resisted his policies.


Feds Clear Toyota in Sudden Acceleration Investigation

NASA/NHTSA study finds no mysterious electronic gremlins.

by on Feb.08, 2011

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda with the Prius V hybrid.

A 10-month government investigation has cleared Toyota of charges that its products might be unexpectedly surging out of control due to mysterious electronic gremlins.

The study, conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in cooperation with the space agency, NASA, explored possible causes of what has come to be known as either unintended acceleration or sudden acceleration in Toyota cars.  But researchers found no fault with the automaker’s electronic throttle control systems, the Department of Transportation reported Tuesday.

“We enlisted the best and brightest engineers to study Toyota’s electronics systems, and the verdict is in. There is no electronic-based cause for unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas,” declared U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

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That’s a major reversal of the position the administration’s top transportation official took barely a year ago, when Toyota announced the second in a series of recalls addressing mechanical problems that have been linked to runaway vehicles.  At one point, LaHood told reporters he thought motorists should park Toyota products until they were repaired.