Heads Up on Quality

Steve St. Angelo, the new chief quality officer for Toyota’s North American Quality Task Force, will speak on Thursday, but the MBS audience gets a preview Monday of what he will be doing.

Toyota manufacturing plants get feedback on problems in their products from three channels: the sales group that interviews customers, warranty work and U.S. government regulators.

One of St. Angelo’s jobs, says Norm Bafunno, president of Toyota Motor Mfg. Indiana, is to integrate the information from these three channels and do a better job of getting quality issues back to the plants making the cars.

‘We Did It’

What a difference a year makes.

A short 12 months ago, General Motors was exiting bankruptcy. Today, the svelte auto maker, having dropped four brands, continues to raise production to meet demand, rebuild its image and prepare to go public again with the goal of drawing down the U.S. government stake.

GM also posted a first-quarter profit in a still-weak U.S. new-vehicle market. GM Vice President Diana Tremblay says she never dreamed the events of 2009 would unfold as they did.

"Nobody knew what was going to happen," she recalls of GM's decent into bankruptcy. "People were saying a 60-day, 90-day bankruptcy. No way. We'd never heard of anything like that. And yet we did it."

For the record, GM spent 39 days in bankruptcy before exiting on July 10, 2009.