New York, New York – Toyota Motor North America has announced that former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater will lead an independent North American Quality Advisory Panel to advise the automaker’s North American affiliates on quality and safety issues.

The panel will work closely with Toyota’s North American leadership team and will have direct access to Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda.

“I am pleased that Secretary Slater has accepted our invitation to lead the distinguished group of safety and quality experts who will help Toyota to improve its quality controls in North America,” said Yoshi Inaba, president and COO of Toyota Motor. “We are committed to more transparency regarding our safety and quality controls, and the independent advisers will have our full cooperation and access to any information they believe they need.”

The group will also evaluate the electronic throttle control system (ETCS-i) installed in Toyota and Lexus vehicles, and its findings will be made public. For the evaluation, it will have access to the results of testing previously conducted by Toyota, as well as an independent study being undertaken by engineering and scientific consulting firm Exponent in California. The panel will be able to commission any additional outside reviews it deems necessary, and will have an unlimited budget to pursue its mandate.

“Over the years, Toyota engineers have extensively tested our electronic throttle control system and have never confirmed a single case where the ETCS-i was the cause of unintended acceleration,” Inaba said. “Nevertheless, given the recent speculation and concerns regarding unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles, we believe it is essential to provide our customers and the general public with additional confidence in the integrity of our electronic systems.”

Slater, who is currently a partner in a public policy law firm, was Secretary of Transportation from February 1997 until January 2001.

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