Filed under: Japan , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota Mitsuru Kawai is overseeing a return to the old ways at Toyota factories throughout Japan. Having spent 50 years at the Japanese automaker, Kawai remembers when manual skills were prized at the company and “experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything.” Company CEO Akio Toyoda personally chose Kawai to develop programs to teach workers metalcraft such as how to forge a crankshaft from scratch, and 100 workstations that formerly housed machines have been set aside for human training. The idea is that when employees personally understand the fabrication of components, they will understand how to make better machines. Said Kawai, “To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.” Lessons learned by the newly skilled workers have led to shorter production lines – in one case, 96percent shorter – improved parts production and less scrap. Taking time to give workers the knowledge to solve problems instead of merely having them “feed parts into a machine and call somebody for help when it breaks down,” Kawai’s initiative is akin to that of Toyota’s Operations Management Consulting Division, where new managers are given a length of time to finish a project but not given any help – they have to learn on their own. It’s not a step back from Toyota’s quest to build more than ten million cars a year; it’s an effort to make sure that this time they don’t sacrifice quality while making the effort. Said Kawai, “We need to become more solid and get back to basics.” Toyota retires robots in favor of humans to improve automaking process originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 12 Apr 2014 15:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Toyota , UAW/Unions , Canada Volkswagen isn’t the only automaker with high-profile unionization efforts afoot at one of its North American factories. Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, is attempting to organize Toyota’s factories in Ontario, reports Reuters . A vote was originally set for next week, but Unifor has apparently found more workers eligible to vote, delaying the proceedings. It hasn’t rescheduled the ballot yet, but claims there are 7,500 employees with the right to vote, with over 3,000 having already signed union cards. Toyota is pushing against organizing, saying that workers already have a payment and benefits near the top of the industry, and noting that it has never laid off a permanent employee in Canada. Unifor has reportedly countered by saying that about a quarter of the workforce is operating under a temporary contract, which receives lower benefits. The automaker has three factories in Ontario – two in Cambridge and one in Woodstock. To form a union, a majority of eligible employees must vote to join Unifor. If successful, they would be the first wholly owned Toyota plants in North America to be organized. Previous attempts to unionize the Japanese automaker’s Canadian factories in 2001 and 2008 failed due to lack of support.
Filed under: Car Buying , Europe , BMW , Ford , GM , Mercedes-Benz , Toyota , Volkswagen , Renault , Peugeot , Citro
Filed under: Budget , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota , UAW/Unions , India The Detroit News reported today that Toyota will restart production at two Indian plants, following a shutdown on Monday. Factory labor, management and police in Asia engage in the kind of violent altercations that we’re not used to, having almost entirely walked away from the overtly brutal relations epitomized by the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the Flint Sit-Down Strike . In India, a plant owned by a Ford transmission supplier plant was shut down in 2009 after incidents between workers and armed men around the same time as Ssangyong workers occupied a factory in South Korea , in 2012 Suzuki Maruti workers rioted over wages around the same time upset employees beat a ceramics factory president to death in retaliation for a labor leader’s killing. Toyota is the latest to company trying to avoid that road. The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this week that it shut down two plants in India after 11 months of acrimonious wage negotiations and arbitration have gone nowhere. Toyota said the plant workers in Bidadi, near Bangalore, had deliberately stopped production at times over the past 45 days and threatened management. The workers said they wanted their wages raised by an amount already agreed to by management, but that management had reneged; news reports weren’t clear on the amount, some saying nearly 10,000 rupees ($165 US) more per month, another saying 4,000 rupees ($65 US), but reports agree that Toyota has said it will only go as high as 3,050 rupees ($50 US). Terms of today’s resolution have not been released, but we do know that production will begin again on Monday, March 24. Toyota temporarily idles pair of Indian plants due to labor unrest originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials UPDATE: Just like that, Toyota has released an official statement confirming its $1.2-billion dollar settlement with the US Attorney’s Office. Our story has been updated to reflect this development and the automaker’s official statement has been added below . Toyota has reached a settlement over the criminal probe into its unintended acceleration problems, and the outcome is more expensive than first expected. The Japanese automaker has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to close the investigation among other settlement terms. The criminal inquiry focused on whether the company kept information from regulators and how it handled drivers’ complaints about the problems, according to the sources. Between 2009 and 2010, Toyota ended up recalling over 10 million vehicles worldwide over sudden acceleration fears. Fixes include modifying floor mats, gas pedals, and installing brake override software on affected models. In addition, Toyota made the latter standard on all of its new vehicles. The first rumblings of a settlement broke last month when “people familiar with the matter” revealed a possible billion-dollar agreement . That rumor suggested that the deal would also include criminal deferred prosecution arrangement that would force Toyota to accept responsibility but let it avoid federal criminal convictions.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials According to those all-too-nebulous “people familiar with the matter,” Toyota is close to a settlement with the US federal government to end a criminal probe over its long-running unintended acceleration fiasco. Though Toyota has never admitted guilt, the deal could reportedly crest a billion dollars and would likely include a criminal deferred prosecution agreement, and while we’re not legal experts, The Wall Street Journal explains that such a deal would “[force Toyota] to accept responsibility while avoiding the potentially crippling consequences of federal criminal convictions.” The report from WSJ also suggests that Toyota is facing charges that it “made false or incomplete disclosures” to various government agencies regarding possible defects to its cars. Such charges may include mail and wire fraud violations. Toyota has already paid out fines totaling $66.2 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because it failed to report safety defects in a timely manner. This deal with the federal government is not related to the billion-dollar class-action settlement reached with Toyota owners over falling vehicle values, and it’s also different from the roughly 400 lawsuits still in courts alleging personal injury of wrongful death due to cases of unintended acceleration. In other words, don’t expect to hear the end of such courtroom verdicts and settlements anytime soon… Toyota nearing $1B settlement of unintended acceleration criminal probe originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 09 Feb 2014 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: GM , Toyota , Volkswagen , Earnings/Financials Toyota is the top-selling automaker in the world. Again. Still. With total reported sales, including those from subsidiaries, of 9.98 million in 2013, Toyota’s performance was enough to outpace rival General Motors by around 270,000 vehicles. That’s a 2.4-percent gain over 2012, and it makes Toyota the top-seller two years in a row. Still, the gap between the top three is shrinking – Toyota held a 460,000-unit lead in 2012. GM sold 9.71 million vehicles last year, a four-percent increase, coming in second place ahead of Volkswagen , which sold around 9.5 million. According to Bloomberg , Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said his company managed to win the sales race while also remaining more profitable than GM or VW. It’s going to be another interesting year in 2014 as the three behemoth automakers vie for the title of World’s Largest. Toyota has predicted that it will increase sales in 2014 to 10.32 million – which would make Toyota the first automaker ever to surpass 10 million global sales – though General Motors and VW are expected to again fight for the lead in the massive Chinese market.
Filed under: Budget , Hybrid , Sedan , Plants/Manufacturing , Crossover , Hatchback , Lexus , Toyota , UAW/Unions , Canada , Luxury Toyota may be heading toward some labor issues in the Great White North, as employees at a pair of Canadian Toyota factories may be set for a certification vote. The Unifor union, which was the result of a merger last year between the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union, will be holding the vote. Over 40 percent of the employees at the Woodstock and Cambridge, Ontario factories have signed union cards, cresting the minimum percentage required to instigate a legal certification vote, according to Reuters . The Woodstock factory is responsible for RAV4 production, while Cambridge builds the Lexus RX350 and RX450h , as well as the Toyota Corolla . The two factories employ nearly 7,000 people. It’s unclear when the union will hold a certification vote at the two factories, but what is rather clear are the worker complaints. Employees are concerned about workers being hired on temporary contracts which lack the benefits of full employment, John Aman, head of organizing for Unifor, told Reuters . Toyota countered that argument. “First, people are hired on contract basis and only when we can make a long-term commitment to them, in terms of their employment security, do we transition them into permanent status,” spokesman Greig Mordue said. “Over the past 12 months or so we’ve hired 1,000 new team members and we’ve also made 900 contracts permanent.” Union to launch Toyota organization drive in Canada originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 12 Jan 2014 12:00:00 EST.
Filed under: Car Buying , China , Ford , GM , Toyota , Volkswagen As of the end of November, Volkswagen had sold 70,000 more cars than General Motors in China in 2013, making it appear inevitable that VW will outsell GM there. The feat would return the German brand to the top of chart in China for the first time in nine years, but even the second-place getter won’t be complaining too loudly: both automakers sold more than three million vehicles in a market pegged to hit 16 million sales this year. Volkswagen said it could have sold more cars if it had had more production capacity in China. The arrival of a new-to-China Audi A4 , a China-built A3 sedan , the VW Bora and Skoda Octavia , as well as an $18.2-billion-euro investment in the country to construct new factories , means VW should see its numbers grow in 2014. GM’s lineup is expanding next year, too, adding four Chevrolet nameplates and two vehicles to its Baojun brand as it tries to get to five million in sales by 2015. Among other automakers, Ford benefited from good product and woes for Japanese automakers over a territorial dispute with China, outselling Toyota by almost 32,000 units through the end of November. The Ford Focus is China’s best-selling vehicle so far this year. Analysts predict that the Chinese market will grow in 2014 thanks to untapped demand in smaller cities, and that should make for more record numbers; counting buses and trucks, China should surpass the 20-million sales mark. The biggest headwind foreseen at the moment is pollution. Larger cities are already capping the number of new vehicle sales and how often people are allowed to drive, as the effects of industrialization obscure entire cities and long-term forecasts.