Toyota Makes Changes

April 21, 2020

Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and Toyota Financial Services (TFS) recently announced executive changes.

Holly Walters, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Financial Savings Bank (TFSB) is promoted to chief information officer and group vice president of information systems for TMNA. In her new role, Walters will oversee the company’s information systems, solutions and technology. Walters will report directly to Zack Hicks, chief digital officer and executive vice president of digital transformation and mobility.

Walters joined Toyota in 2007 as TFSB chief technology officer, responsible for the bank’s technology strategy and implementation.

Mike Owens is promoted to group vice president and chief risk officer at TFS. In this expanded role, Owens will have the added responsibility of overseeing TFS’ international affiliates in the Americas Oceania region. Owens will continue to serve as chairman of the board of directors for TFSB and report to Mark Templin, president and CEO of TFS.

Owens joined Toyota in 2002 and has more than 25 years of experience in credit analysis, risk management, account management, and business development across the auto, home mortgage, commercial, and credit card lines of business.

Toyota dealerships ranked highest in the 2020 Pied Piper PSI Internet Lead Effectiveness Benchmarking Study, which answers the question, “What happens when customers visit a dealer website and inquire about a vehicle?” Dealerships selling Cadillac vehicles were ranked second, followed by dealerships selling MINI or Subaru.

Brands with the greatest improvement from 2019 to 2020 were Dodge, Chrysler, Ram, Alfa Romeo and Lincoln, while Cadillac was the brand with the greatest improvement over the past five years.

Pied Piper submitted customer inquiries through the individual websites of 5,063 dealerships, and then evaluated how the dealerships responded by email, telephone and text message over the next 24 hours.

Industrywide, the largest changes over the past year included a 23 percent increase in dealer text messages and a 14 percent increase in emailed answers to questions.

The most meaningful measurement is whether the customer received a response – whether by email, text, telephone call - answering their question within 24 hours. Porsche, Jaguar and MINI dealerships were the most likely to email or text an answer to the customer’s question within 24 hours, more than 60 percent of the time on average.

Toyota is conducting a safety recall involving certain 2011-19 model year Corolla, 2011-13 model year Matrix, 2012-18 model year Avalon, and 2013-18 model year Avalon Hybrid vehicles in the U.S. Approximately 2.9 million vehicles are involved in this recall. 

The subject vehicles may be equipped with an electronic control unit (ECU) from a specific supplier designed to receive signals from crash sensors and deploy the airbags and seat belt pretensioners.  The ECU may not have adequate protection against certain electrical noise that can occur in certain crashes, such as severe underride crashes. This can lead to incomplete or nondeployment of the airbags and/or seat belt pretensioners. Airbag non-deployment and/or lack of seat belt pretensioner operation can increase the risk or severity of injury in a crash.

Toyota Indiana (TMMI) invested an additional $700 million and added 150 new jobs to complete the transformation of its plant modernization project, announced in January 2017. 

Toyota Indiana Completes $1.3 Billion Modernization Project; Includes 550 New Jobs

The project adds 550 new jobs and represents a total new investment of $1.3 billion, which was used for retooling, new equipment installation and advanced manufacturing technologies to further modernize the facility and meet strong demand for the all-new 2020 Toyota Highlander. Since 1996, Toyota Indiana's total investment is approximately $5 billion and total employment exceeds 7,000. The plant has the capacity to assemble more than 420,000 vehicles annually.

This new investment is part of a broader commitment from Toyota to invest $13 billion in its U.S. operations over a five-year period through 2021. To date, Toyota has committed approximately $7.1 billion of the announced total; cumulative direct investment in the U.S. exceeds $28.4 billion.

In addition to the plant investment, Toyota Indiana committed $1 million to a new, regional workforce program that will connect students with career opportunities in advanced manufacturing while still in high school.

McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP (MWA) announced it is investigating the following Toyota Hybrid vehicles linked to possible braking issues and defects: 2010-15 Prius or Prius Plug-in Hybrid; 2012-14 Camry Hybrid; and the 2013-15 Avalon Hybrid.

A petition filed in September 2019 with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by Roger Hogan, the owner and president of Claremont Toyota and Capistrano Toyota dealerships, identified 117 complaints about the brake systems in Toyota Hybrid vehicles since 2010, including 60 that reported crashes.  In addition to the illumination of the vehicle’s warning lamps, the alleged brake defect may result in increasing stopping distance, the reduction of hydraulic pressure within the vehicle’s brake system, and the deactivation of brake assist and stability control.

Toyota has initiated a warranty extension program, agreed to provide repairs free of charge, and will reimburse owners for the cost of previous repairs to the brake booster assembly.

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