Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Toyota's Chief Quality Officer Steve St. Angelo Looks To A Bright Future

Toyota's Chief Quality Officer Steve St. Angelo discusses how the company culture has changed since the mainstream media's assault on the unintended acceleration issue which resulted in millions of recalls and eventual vindication of fault by the Department of Transportation.

Steve St. Angelo
Steve St. Angelo gave a speech to a group of more than a hundred journalists in Los Angeles that started with the breaking news that all of Toyota’s U.S. plants were back operating at full speed as of yesterday following the disruptions caused by the Japanese earthquake back in March. He said, “the parts problems are behind us”. St. Angelo delivered some stories about his background like how he was almost cast in the ‘70’s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, to his first day working for Toyota in 2005. 

He touched on the “bright future” ahead for the industry and listed the same positive factors that Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. President & COO Jim Lentz did to the same group in January: the U.S. population will grow faster that elsewhere, the age of vehicles on the road is at a high as are used car prices, there’s credit availability, the Fed will keep interest rates low and all manufacturers are offering new cars with more technology and safety features that will drive people into the dealer showrooms. St. Angelo threw green into his presentation discussing how much money the manufacturing plants were saving on energy due to conservation measures such as reducing light bulbs.

He said Toyota will be adding 240 U.S. jobs at its engine plant in Alabama that will add 4 cylinder engines to its 6 and 8 cylinder engine assembly and 2,000 people will be hired at the new Mississippi plant when it opens this Fall to produce the Corolla. St. Angelo said the auto industry employees 8 million workers in the U.S. and will add 88,000 this year and next.

St. Angelo went over new safety features such as a rear window curtain airbag, whiplash-lessening seat belts, blind spot monitors and an eye monitoring feature to make sure the driver is focused on the road. Also a steering wheel that monitors the driver's vital signs, presumably like a treadmill at a fitness center.

It was good to hear that production has returned to 100% following the March 11, 2011, earthquake in Japan and that there's a bright future for the industry but I was really wanting to Steve discuss how the sticky-pedal-stacked-floor-mat and unintended acceleration issues that forced a millions of recalls and billions of dollars/yen to be spent changed his life and Toyota's culture on quality. Maybe it was wiser to leave all that in the past rather re-live that overblown media nightmare.