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Toyota makes a stand against COVID-19

Toyota wades in: One of the biggest car manufacturers on the planet, Toyota has thrown its hat in the ring to help produce medical equipment to be used against the spread of the coronavirus.

Toyota is the latest brand to outline its battle plan to stem the spread of COVID-19

13 Apr 2020

JAPANESE auto giant and Australian market leader Toyota has detailed the measures it has implemented worldwide to assist in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, including production of personal protective equipment (PPE), offering vehicles for frontline medical staff and making cash donations.

 

Following in the footsteps of other major global car-makers, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) is set to begin producing face shields at its Teiho plant in Japan, using its specialist injection moulding equipment and 3D printers to produce between 500 and 600 units per week.

 

It plans to ramp this up as it starts to “evaluate the possibility of other group companies also joining in on the production” – as seen in the United States, where Denso is assisting with the manufacture of facemasks and protective shields.

 

Large-scale production measures are also being implemented in Europe for similar PPE.

 

As already seen in other countries, the Japanese government has now called on its domestic automotive manufacturers to help increase production of PPE and other specialist medical devices, with a heavy emphasis on ventilators.

 

In response, TMC has created a production system support team to work with medical equipment suppliers to determine if its production systems can be utilised.

 

Mirroring the operations currently underway in Japan, Toyota Production System (TPS) teams in both North America and Europe will also work with local medical equipment manufacturers, particularly those producing ventilators, to look at uprating production.

 

The other main directive from the Japanese government last week was to “help co-operate in procuring essential items” and TMC has responded by leveraging its supply chains in an effort to source “facemasks, personal protective equipment and thermometers, among other items”.

 

Region-specific responses involving other activities are also underway, including the donation of medical supplies – facemasks, protective gear, medical caps, disinfectant, etc – and fleets of vehicles for use by healthcare workers and other frontline staff.

 

Things will be taken a step further in Europe where rental vehicles and free roadside assistance will also be offered to those on the front line.

 

Monetary donations have been made to the Chinese arm of the Red Cross while shuttles are being supplied for medical workers upon request in other parts of Asia courtesy of the Toyota Mobility Foundation.

 

Closer to home, Toyota Australia has set in place a number of simple but effective measures revolving around social distancing and the practice of proper personal hygiene while also offering financial support to customers who have been impacted by the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

 

According to the company, customers who have bought a vehicle through its in-house finance division may be eligible for hardship support if they “have been medically impacted by COVID-19” or “are experiencing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19”.

 

Each application for financial hardship is assessed on a case-by-case basis in the hope of providing a “responsible and sustainable solutions that meet an individual’s needs”.

 

From a service point of view and like the majority of other brands in Australia, most of Toyota’s dealerships remain open for both new and used car sales as well as servicing and repairs as per usual although things have been tailored to adhere to the strict social distancing legislation put in place by the federal and state governments.

 

“The health and safety of our customers and employees is paramount,” the company said in a recent business update.

 

“For your peace of mind, our dealers have implemented intensive cleaning, hygiene and social-distancing measures, based on best-practice advice from governments and health authorities.”

 

These measures include the more extensive cleaning of dealerships, an abundance of hand sanitisers throughout said dealerships, the disinfecting and or sanitising of vehicles – especially the major touchpoints including doorhandles, steering wheel, switches, control buttons, multimedia screens, indicators stalks, seatbelts and keys – the use of hand sanitiser before and after entering a vehicle, and encouraging dealer staff to use gloves while cleaning or sanitising.

 

While not as extensive as Ford’s recently announced remote servicing scheme (vehicle pick-up and drop-off), Toyota has reminded customers that it has its own batch of remote services with test drives, new or used vehicle purchases and servicing appointments all able to be booked online.

 

“In addition, you can contact your dealer by phone or email to discuss other options that may be available to assist you,” the company said.

 

“We ask customers to visit a dealership only if they are well and to respect best-practice social distancing.”

 

GoAuto has contacted Toyota Australia for further information on the company’s response to the crisis in this country.


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