- The Washington Times - Friday, April 16, 2010

TORRANCE, Calif. - Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. has just announced it has established a new SMART business process utilizing existing product engineers, field technical specialists and specially trained technicians to quickly and aggressively investigate customer reports of unintended acceleration in Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles in the United States.

The rapid-response Swift Market Analysis Response Team will attempt to contact customers within 24 hours of receiving a complaint of unintended acceleration to arrange for a comprehensive on-site vehicle analysis. Members are drawn from a group of 200 technical associates located across Toyota’s North American operations and will work in close partnership with Toyota and Lexus dealers. As part of the SMART program, dealerships will utilize structured business processes and materials to address owners’ concerns or reported experiences with unintended acceleration.

Steve St. Angelo, Toyota chief quality officer for North America, said, “As Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, told Congress in February, we are committed to listening to our customers even more intently and addressing their concerns even more promptly. Our multitiered SMART approach is just one of the many steps we are taking to make sure that Toyota sets an even higher standard.

“There has been a great deal of confusion, speculation and misinformation about unintended acceleration in the past several weeks. We believe judgments should be based on reliable evidence, and our SMART business process is there to help provide information upon which such judgments can be made. As we did in two recent, much-publicized cases in San Diego, California, and Harrison, New York, we will continue to work in close partnership with law-enforcement agencies and federal regulators with jurisdiction over accidents whenever requested,” Mr. St. Angelo said.

The size and configuration of each SMART team will vary based on the specific circumstances of each report and vehicle involved, and will incorporate engineering and product experts from across Toyota’s North American operations. Engineers from Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan are also expected to assist in some evaluations, as are specialists from other fields if warranted by initial findings.

Toyota has provided dealers in the United States with the information they need to assist vehicle owners with concerns about unintended acceleration and to arrange a SMART evaluation. The information includes guidance on how to help owners, ranging from those with concerns about their vehicle to those who report experiencing unintended acceleration and were involved in an accident.

Detailed information and answers to questions are available to customers at www.toyota.com or www.lexus.com and at the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 800/331-4331 or the Lexus Customer Assistance Center at 800/255-3987.

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