Tag Archives: cars

Toyota’s Commitment

From Toyota’s blog, Living Up to Our Commitment

We’ve received reports that on a small number of model-year 1995 to 2000 Tacomas, excessive corrosion of the frame has caused perforation of the metal. The reason for this, it appears, is that the frames of some of the 813,000 vehicles built during this time-frame may not have adequate corrosion protection.

Because of our oft-stated commitment to standing behind our products, we’re extending the rust-perforation warranty covering these trucks for a period of 15 years from each vehicle’s original date of purchase, with no mileage limitation, for corrosion damage that results in perforation of the vehicle’s frame material. Owners of these Tacomas need not be the original owners. Even if you bought your Tacoma second- or third-hand, it’s covered by this extended warranty.

Once again Toyota shows what it means to go beyond the traditional way of thinking (where often MBA bean-counters and lawyers decide what should be done) instead of someone interested in having the company actually live up to a higher mission. From a previous post on their blog:

The Toyota Way is a management philosophy involving 14 principles that is the essence of the DNA of our organization and really all those who make up the company. In its basic form, the Toyota Way boils down to two fundamental practices: Respect for People and Continuous Improvement.

Related: Toyota IT OverviewDeming CompaniesReacting to Product ProblemsToyota Management Develops the New CamryCorporate BloggingDell Innovation

Inside Honda’s Brain

Inside Honda’s brain by Alex Taylor III

why is Honda playing with robots? Or, for that matter, airplanes? Honda is building a factory in North Carolina to manufacture the Hondajet, a sporty twin-engine runabout that carries six passengers. Or solar energy? Honda has established a subsidiary to make and market thin-film solar-power cells. Or soybeans? Honda grows soybeans in Ohio so that it can fill up cargo containers being shipped back to Japan. The list goes on. All this sounds irrelevant to a company that built some 24 million engines last year and stuffed them into everything from cars to weed whackers.

Since 2002 its revenues have grown nearly 40%, to $94.8 billion. Its operating profits, with margins ranging from 7.3% to 9.1%, are among the best in the industry.

The wellspring of Honda’s creative juices is Honda R&D, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honda Motor. Based in Saitama, west of Tokyo, R&D engineers create every product that Honda makes – from lawn mowers to motorcycles and automobiles – and pursue projects like Asimo and Hondajet on the side. Defiantly individualistic, R&D insists on devising its own solutions and shuns outside alliances. On paper it reports to Honda Motor, but it is powerful enough to have produced every CEO since the company was founded in 1948.

The engineer in Fukui [Honda’s president and CEO] cannot help but be intrigued by what his former colleagues are up to, and his office is only a few steps away from Kato’s. But even with the CEO just down the hall, says Kato, “We want to look down the road. We do not want to be influenced by the business.”

mistakes like the Insight are also the exception. R&D has provided Honda with a long list of engineering firsts that consumers liked, including the motorcycle airbag, the low-polluting four-stroke marine engine, and ultralow-emission cars.

Related: Toyota as HomebuilderS&P 500 CEOs – More Engineering GraduatesMore on Non-Auto ToyotaAsimo Robot, Running and Climbing StairsApplied ResearchGoogle Engineering Energy

Car Powered Using Compressed Air

car powered using compressed air

Jules Verne predicted cars would run on air. The Air Car is making that a reality. The car would be powered by compressed air. Certainly seem like an interesting idea. Air car ready for production:

Refueling is simple and will only take a few minutes. That is, if you live nearby a gas station with custom air compressor units. The cost of a fill up is approximately $2.00. If a driver doesn’t have access to a compressor station, they will be able to plug into the electrical grid and use the car’s built-in compressor to refill the tank in about 4 hours.

The car is said to have a driving range of 125 miles so by my calculation it would cost about 1.6 cents per mile. A car that gets 31 mpg would use 4 gallons to go 124 miles. At $3 a gallon for gas, the cost is $12 for fuel or about 9.7 cents per mile. I didn’t notice anything about maintenance costs. I don’t see any reason why the Air Car would cost more to maintain than a normal car. Five-seat concept car runs on air

An engineer has promised that within a year he will start selling a car that runs on compressed air, producing no emissions at all in town.

Tata is the only big firm he’ll license to sell the car – and they are limited to India. For the rest of the world he hopes to persuade hundreds of investors to set up their own factories, making the car from 80% locally-sourced materials.

“Imagine we will be able to save all those components traveling the world and all those transporters.” He wants each local factory to sell its own cars to cut out the middle man and he aims for 1% of global sales – about 680,000 per year. Terry Spall from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers says: “I really hope he succeeds. It is a really brave experiment in producing a sustainable car.”

Now does that sound like the Toyota Production System to you? It should. If I were an executive at Toyota I would sure examine this to see if it really is as promising as it looks. And if it is Toyota sure has plenty of cash and the management practice to make a very compelling case for allowing Toyota to produce this globally. The engineers desires closely match what Toyota has learned. Both seek to eliminate the waste of transportation (friction).

Related: Click Fraud = Friction for GoogleManufacturing Takes off in IndiaElectric Automobiles

Toyota Presses On

At Toyota, a Global Giant Reaches for Agility

With plants in 27 countries, more new factories under construction and workers speaking languages that include Russian and Turkish, Toyota’s top executives are trying a difficult balancing act – replicating the company’s success and operating principles in other countries while ceding more control to these new outposts at the same time.

Next year, it expects to sell more than 10.4 million cars worldwide, double what it sold in 2000.

At Motomachi, more than 3,000 tasks on the assembly line have been translated into video manuals that are displayed on laptop computers above 30 simulated workstations, situated where their functions would be carried out inside the factory.

The videos show everything from the correct way to hold a screw to the best way to hold an air gun so that a worker’s hand will not tire in a few hours. This month, workers from Toyota’s plant in Thailand took part in training required for jobs in their plant’s paint shop. Listening as an interpreter translated from Japanese into Thai, the workers were shown how to bend their knees and spray a water gun across a clear panel of Plexiglas.

Yet another article on the management of Toyota. And here is another: Toyota heir slowly following in family footsteps. And another: Toyota explores more efficient methods to build cars.

Related: 12 Stocks for 10 Years Feb 2008 UpdateNo Excessive Senior Executive Pay at ToyotaNew Articles on Toyota ManagementToyota’s Effort to Stay ToyotaMore Positive Press for Toyota ManagementToyota in the US Economy

Good Customer Service Example

IRA Toyota – Milford; Great Service [the broken link was removed]

I was pleasantly surprised to find a “Service wizard” available. You create an account, specify the standard details about the car (make, model, year, mileage). If you add the VIN, they will be able to provide and maintain additional details.

The slickest part of the wizard was the capability to pick a service and schedule a date. Depending upon what service you picked, the calendar changed. This wasn’t any old calendar. This was dynamic. Clearly, they had predefined the capability of handling some number of services per day. It was likely also interactive depending upon what was already scheduled for that day. This all makes wonderful sense but I had not seen this before.

I went ahead and scheduled the service for Monday AM planning to drop the car off Sunday night. Saturday, we received an email reminding us of the service scheduled for the car. Sunday, Allison and I drive over to their location, pull into the lot following the “Service” sign and find lanes specially marked for night drop off. There were already some cars in the lanes so we found a spot. The box on the wall had a pen and several forms. We filled out one and put the keys in the envelop through the clearly marked “key drop” slot. This group has figured out service and seems to have thought of everything. The drive home continued the conversation on how well they have planned for service; web site wizard, email reminders, lanes for drop off, etc. Well done!

I think the lean folks will like the level loading the dynamic calendar facilitates (and all the other ways the process provided value to the customer). This strategy levels the load by pushing around demand a bit (rather than just accommodating whatever demand exists – real world conditions can make this the correct strategy). For example, if special machines are needed for certain jobs and the long term demand supports one of each such machine and if you can adjust the flow to level out the demand doing so is a good strategy. As this example shows, customers have flexibility in scheduling preventative maintenance; therefore take advantage of that in your system design.
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