Toyota President Admits Quality Decline Began in 2003

In an interview with Automotive News, Toyota President Akio Toyoda admitted that his company saw a decline in quality and communication roughly around 2003, which is when it passed the 6-million-vehicle mark.

“We look at that as the turning point,” said Toyoda. “When we hit the 6 million mark, we maybe couldn’t apply the Toyota Way as thoroughly as we should.”

Toyota’s growth curve made it difficult to apply the quality principles that brought Toyota to its zenith as one of the world’s most respected automakers. Its production system, called the “Toyota Way,” suffered quality breakdowns as the company’s growth accelerated so rapidly.

Toyoda also pointed to internal communication problems as giving the appearance that the company was trying mask its problems.

“Toyota doesn’t go about hiding things and trying to deceive people,” Toyoda said. “But if you are looking from the outside, and we are taking a long time to give a response or do something, they come to the conclusion that maybe we are hiding something.”

In the same interview, the Toyota president also stressed the company’s need to move away from profit-eating sales incentives and revive the embattled Scion brand, which has seen sluggish sales in the U.S.

Toyota President Pinpoints Date of Quality Decline: 2003 (DriveOn)



The "reliability" quality decline may have come in 2003, but the quality of materials declined sharply in the 1997 Camry.


I agree. They abandoned triple seals on the doors and other little things that decontented that generation Camry.


Its true. Having sat in a 97 and having owned a 96, the 97 Camry seemed way too cost constricting from start. Their respective rasale values show it. And fix-it yourselfers notice too.


I took my Highlander to service and while they worked on it I decided to sit inside new Camry LE with leather.
The fit and finish of interior is not better then 2010 Sonata. Misalignment of pieces is present. Some trim pieces look like it was cut with blunt blade.
I think, this is American assembly. My Japanese-assembled Highlander has hard plastics all over the dash but one will not find a fault in the way it is put together. Gaps are minimal, no misalignments, etc.
But the exterior was good. In comparison to my recent inspection of Fusion, the Fusion looks like it was assembled by using a sledge hammer.


Golden pedestal no more, huh Tony?


Style, don't overgeneralize. I still will take Camry over Malibu.


Many people would take a Camry over a Rentabu Tony.

Long term quality, reputation and Resale value it's a no brainer to go with your typical Toyota.


"Don't overgeneralize."

This coming from the person who claimed how the fit and finish on Hyundais never matched Toyotas but yet is now admitting that in fact the Hyundai is better? Hypocrit.

BTW it's called the Toyota Production System and it's used worldwide so you can stop with the myth that Japanese Toyotas are assembled better than American Toyotas.



stop changing what I've said. And I said that Camry didn't have fit and finish better then Sonata. And few months ago I said that Sonata interior doesn't have good fit and finish.
I always knew that same company can produce a good quality vehicle and average quality vehicle and bad quality vehicle. Like Mazda with 626 and Protege. One was bad and one was good. Or, Like Toyota. The Corolla would run forever but bits and pieces would fall off it.

Definitely, I see the huge difference between Mexican, American and Japanese assembly. My Highlander, uncle's CR-V, both of Japanese assembly; are well put together.

Is this just a coincidence? Every Japan-made car I had/have (or/and my relatives) do very well into high mileage with minimal problems. Mazdas, Nissans, Hondas... but this is different story.

Today I see BIG difference in quality of assembly of my Japanese Highlander and American Camry.


Ever notice how no one ever argues that Chevy has the best quality? I think if it were not for fleet sales General Motors would be a sinking ship.


I generally don't see a point of arguing manufacturer's quality. This is just doesn't exist. Each single car from each single manufacturer can have its own quality, not related to the rest of manufacturer's cars.


Tony, your comments about the Camry are off base. Camry just beat out the other family cars, including Sonata, in a Motor Trend comparison article. By the way, your Highlander is built on the Camry platform. DUH!


You are generally out of base. Just because Highlander is built on Camry platform doesn't mean it is Camry. Some Volvos and Mazdas share platforms too. Platform is to provide the rigidity etc. But it could be stretched or shrunk. My Highlander has tons more of horizontal space then Camry. This is why I picked it even over Venza.

And your comment about Motor Trend is also meaningless. They picked the "Best SELLING sedan". So, even if it is total junk, if it sells the best... understand? This is why Mazda6 wasn't even there-it doesn't sell. They put together plenty of numbers but never said anything about the feel of quality. It is not something you can measure in numbers and it can lie.

My point here as that I personally SAW with MY eyes, the fit and finish of the Camry interior not to be better then the one of 2010 Sonata. Both are not impressive. It has to do solely with the assembly process as some cars have same parts fit better.

My point here was that I am very impressed with assembly of interior of Highlander vs Camry.

Dare to Compare

Tony, keep mentioning the fit and feel of "2010 Sonata" to the new Camry LE. Why not compare the 2011 Sonata?


So when you buy these bland looking/driving Toyota's do you write the check directly to Japan? Way to send American money to other countries and not support your own. People wonder what is wrong with the American economy....


Every Japan car that is bought, 10,000dallors goes to Japan called the fair trade agreement. americans check the record ford is making betters cars than toyota. that is known by toyota. Yes GM andtoyota quality is below 40%and chysler, ford is over 94% quality check the record, did you read 270,000 toyota engines are bad. people sobor up you are seeing things clear toyota is not a better car. they will not go forever that is the soboring truth you loyal toyota buyer wipe the tears and look at the truth. ford is making a better car ask toyota or just look at the record that is a soboring truth fact.


Why dosnt japan or china have to send america money every car we sell over in there country? Ford, GM, and Chrysler, Chyrsler at the time it was a german company. asked the president (bush) if he would stop the unfair trade agreement. He (bush) asked what about health care, what about making a better car? He dosnt know anything about cars. think about this,Japan get 10,000dallors for every Jap car sold in america. Why dosnt ford or gm get that? PEOPLE IS THERE SOMTHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? I wish i could start a business and put out junk and some stupid people like you all would buy it, convence you it was better than american its done. cant believe america has such stupid people the president has come out and tell you these cars arent quality and some of you people will still not believe it.

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