Toyota announces big changes to ‘better respond’ to customers

Carmaker Toyota announced key changes to its organization Monday that it said will help streamline customer response and adapt to ongoing changes in the auto industry.

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Toyota Motor North America will establish a Manufacturing Project Innovation Center as part of the plan, which will focus on strategic manufacturing initiatives and will be led by Mike Bafan, who will act as the center’s vice president.

The initiative will also look for trends in connected, autonomous, shared and electric technologies, according to a company statement, as well as spotlighting benchmarking and advanced processing initiatives.

The Innovation Center “will assign manufacturing leaders to align and improve the operational speed and transformation at its North American vehicle plants based on platforms and common architectures as follows,” Toyota said in the memo.

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Christopher Reynolds, chief administration officer, manufacturing and corporate resources at the company will oversee the center.

“These improvements will enable our manufacturing team to better respond to our customers’ needs as we transform our business into a world-class mobility company,” he said in the statement. “We are more confident than ever that we’re at the leading edge of our industry’s transformation and have positioned ourselves for long-term, sustainable success.”

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Toyota currently has more than $27 billion in direct U.S. investment, which includes 10 U.S. plants. The company has committed to invest $13 billion more in the U.S. by 2021.

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Its stock is up more than 21 percent on the year and nearly 22 percent year-to-date.

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