Toyota Motor Corp. is accustomed to being everyone's target, whether it be for quality, customer satisfaction, manufacturing efficiency or market acumen. But Toshiaki (Tag) Taguchi, president, Toyota Motor North America Inc., says even Toyota needs to improve.

And quickly.

In his Aug. 9 presentation here, Mr. Taguchi says one of Toyota's overriding priorities is to capitalize on fast-moving new technical advances to help improve its already benchmark products and manufacturing processes. He says that new technology means the automotive sector must move more quickly than ever before, and admits that adopting change will be particularly crucial for historically methodical Toyota.

"At Toyota, we are concerned that the pace may outrun the tenacious, incremental approach that has served us so well in the past."

Mr. Taguchi says Toyota is closely examining the implications of new electronic technology and how to best capitalize on it for the best interests of the company - and its customers.

"Typically, we take too long before we take action. And then we spend too much time fixing the problem," he says of matters like fixing a water leak on the new Avalon large car, for example. He says that in the case of the Avalon, although only a small number of customers mentioned the leak, the problem was quickly traced to a supplier's die and summarily corrected - thanks to the speedy new process.