The recall of Toyota cars in other countries has to do with the design of parts and does not affect the production process, Toyota Motor Vietnam (TMV) President Akito Tachibana tells Thanh Nien Weekly.
Thanh Nien: Can you give us details about the support you have offered for Vietnamese owners of grey imported Toyota cars* that are affected by your parent company's recall? Can these owners bring their cars to the TMV service stations for checks and repairs?
Akito Tachibana: TMV will support grey imported Toyota car owners that are affected by the recall because of sticky pedals in other markets. However, we do not have official information on these vehicles. Moreover, we need time to prepare well, conduct checks, order parts and train our staff. Currently, we do not have any parts needed for the repairs. When everything is well-prepared and ready, we can support those owners to check and repair their cars through the TMV dealer network.
The recall of millions of cars in America has worried customers of Toyota in Vietnam, and they want to find out if there is any problem with their car or not.
We do understand the customers' worry about their Toyota vehicles. Once more, we would like to affirm that all products manufactured and provided by TMV including 6 locally-produced models: Camry, Altis, Vios, Hiace, Fortuner, Innova and two imported ones Landcruiser and Hilux, are unaffected.
Currently, all products that are manufactured and provided by TMV carry a warranty and receive periodic maintenance of global standards maintained by Toyota. In case any customer still has any concern, she or he can directly contact TMV dealers and get the vehicle checked.
Thus, our customers can feel completely secure about TMV's products.
Besides, consumers should be more careful when buying a product. When you buy a product, whatever its value, a genuine warranty must be attached. If you have that, there is no need to worry about after-sales service for the product.
Although the Toyota vehicles recalled in America and Europe have met the strict technical standards set by these markets, technical defects were still found. So what is the guarantee for TMV's cars?
The pedal parts for TMV products are provided by a different supplier. Moreover, we have not received any complaints on this issue from TMV's products. For TMV, product quality is a most important target, and we are always dedicated to quality control.
Given the recall in other markets, what are TMV's solutions to control quality and avoid risks in production lines here?
I would like to stress that the nature of this [recall] campaign is due to the design of parts, not the production process. Although this [the recall] does not affect our production activity, we still consider it an important lesson that we always need to keep in mind.
For this reason, we have immediately checked carefully all our production processes to prevent any risks or problems as well as promoted quality control at each step in the production line in order to ensure the high quality of all our products.
Although TMV has said products manufactured by it are unaffected, some customers are still worried. Some have even put off their decision to buy a Toyota. How do you evaluate the influence of the recall on TMV?
At our plant, the quality control process has always been followed strictly. Thus, during the 15 years of operations in Vietnam, TMV has gained the belief and affection of Vietnamese consumers for our high quality products and this is evidenced in the number of customers using our vehicles now.
With the support from our customers, in February 2010, TMV's sales was 1,808 units, an increase of 10 percent compared with the same month in 2009. So our sales in the first two months of this year was 4,020 units, 1,315 more than the same period last year.
The recall could cost Toyota billions of dollars and affect its sales. Can you tell us if it would affect the investment and development plans of Toyota in Vietnam this year and in coming years?
We have strong confidence and commitment for doing long-term business in Vietnam. So, our study on additional investment is actually underway. However, the timing of further investment depends much on the market situation.
* Editor's note: Grey import vehicles are new or used motor vehicles and motorcycles legally imported from another country through channels other than the maker's official distribution system. The synonymous term parallel import is sometimes substituted.