Toyota is changing its engineering practices in an effort to halt a slide in vehicle quality. In one major shift, more engineering work will be done in house. The amount of engineering work contracted to outside firms will drop from about 30 percent to 10 percent, according to an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. Toyota will also reduce total engineering effort by eliminating engine options and other design variants. In another change, testing time will be stretched out, and possibly will include use of more physical prototypes.
At least some of Toyota’s recent quality problems have been caused by poor fundamental engineering execution. In a problem disclosed by Design News, Toyota says a poorly selected plastic used as friction levers in accelerator pedal assemblies caused the gas pedal to malfunction in certain weather conditions.