Toyota Expands Research on Auto Deaths to Aid Image Repair
Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Asia’s largest carmaker, added 10 projects and six research institutions as partners to broaden a research effort to reduce auto deaths and injuries as it tries to win back buyers after record recalls.
Toyota said in January it would spend $50 million over the next five years on its Collaborative Safety Research Center, housed at the company’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, technical center, focused on reducing harm to children, teenagers and seniors. Today’s announcement adds research on driver education, crash avoidance, accident reconstruction and crash-data analysis.
Toyota’s reputation for safety and reliability was damaged by recalls of millions of cars and light trucks in the U.S. last year, most for flaws linked to unintended acceleration. Toyota paid a record $48.8 million in recall-related fines and still faces lawsuits alleging lost vehicle value, injury or death resulting from the flaws.
“The establishment of the Collaborative Safety Research Center is a direct result of the commitment Akio Toyoda made to Congress and the American people that Toyota was going to do more to advance automotive safety research,” Chuck Gulash, director of the research center, told reporters yesterday.
Toyoda is chief executive officer of the Toyota City, Japan-based automaker and the grandson of its founder.
The new research partners are Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’s Transportation Active Safety Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Washtenaw Area Transportation Study and Wayne State University School of Medicine, Toyota said.
The safety research center will also work with researchers from the University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on studies, Toyota said in January.
Toyota’s U.S. sales unit is based in Torrance, California. The company’s American depositary receipts, representing two ordinary shares, rose 52 cents, or 0.75 percent, to $69.57 at 4:03 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
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