The manufacturing geeks over at the Evolving Excellence blog (www.evolvingexcellence.com) are thrashing the GM commercial as well. Fundamentally they say the reason Toyota has such high quality is due to their respect for people, which creates employee continuous improvement suggestion programs, which robots can’t do. Instead of firing someone (or a robot) over a dropped screw, Toyota would get a team of people together to figure out what process failure led to the screw being dropped… not canning tens of years of experience for a mistake that probably wasn’t the person’s (robot’s) fault. It’s a good read:

http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/2007/02/gm