In Toyota's corporate timeline, the last two years have arguably been two of the global carmaker's most disruptive. Those within its corporate environs - like executive vice president for engineering and manufacturing Steve St. Angelo - would hope the historical record over the period would show increased sales or record-breaking profits. Instead, Toyota Motor Corporation served up a safety controversy regarding unintended acceleration, revealed a long-simmering disconnect between engineering and manufacturing on quality control, and was slammed by Japan's earthquake, subsequent tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
Happily, the bad news is seemingly behind Toyota, and Mr. St. Angelo is optimistic. In remarks made last week at the Toyota USA Automobile Museum, Mr. St. Angelo was visibly pleased - as only a manufacturing exec can be - by Toyota's return to 100 percent production. Also noted was Toyota's ability to beat forecast; following the disruption of production by Japan's earthquake and tsunami, it was believed the more likely return to full plant utilization in the U.S. would be November or December of 2011.
Models produced by Toyota in North American include Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Highlander, Sienna, Sequoia and Venza; these models returned to 100 percent in June. The vehicles returning to 'full volume' at the time of the announcement include Tacoma, Tundra, RAV 4 and Lexus RX 350. In remarks that, while taken from a script, were refreshingly less polished than we typically see from the marketing side of the business, Mr. St. Angelo noted "the dedication and commitment of our North American team members, suppliers and business partners."
The Automobile Museum venue was amazing in both its scope and under-the-radar promotion. It is located near Toyota's U.S. headquarters in Irvine, but is only open by appointment. A great venue for meetings and other public gatherings, the staff also provides guided tours - essentially on a one-on-one basis. The website provides an overview of the collection, along with contact info.