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Akio Toyoda is a lucky man

Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motors, is a lucky man. Lucky he’s living in the 21st Century. Because not so long ago, a Japanese man facing dishonor and public humiliation would have been expected to commit suicide.

Instead, Toyoda may only end up resigning in shame as more and more Toyota vehicles are recalled for serious mechanical and electronic defects. Today, the vaunted Prius was added to the recall list. And there are strong indications that some Corollas will also be recalled for an entirely new problem related to their steering.

Toyota is being savaged by the media. But even allowing for media hype and exaggeration, it’s becoming impossible to minimize the issue. Clearly there are problems, apparently widespread, serious safety problems related to acceleration, braking, and steering. Not exactly your garden variety door-sticking, window-leaking, glove-box-rattling gripes. These are the most basic, critical operating systems in any car. More and more the recalls suggest the possibility of a systemic problem with the company’s whole approach to design, testing, and assembly. And more and more, Toyota’s seemingly reluctant response suggests a lack of concern for safety and consumer confidence, once the company’s hallmark.

Yes, the rather secretive, slow-to-react, not-forthcoming Akio Toyoda is a very lucky man.

6 Comments »

  1. I saw an online poll on a popular site and many online readers or lovers of the brand are still willing to purchase more Toyota cars. With an increase in recalls the management must be hard on themselves personally. I hope they will be able to cope. Suicide shouldn’t be an alternative. Things happen. This is getting too much to bear though.

    I am thinking this case will be studied in schools for years to come -based on the issues they face – the media is ripping the company apart and when you think it will be over more recalls and being made. I don’t drive and I would like to but I can’t imagine how drivers are fearing for their own lives. There was a report saying that the defective cars are not in Jamaica……with so many recalls that could become an impossible dream.
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    I’ll bet you’re right. This will become a case study for business and marketing classes — what the company did right or wrong, what they could have done better or differently, etc. I read a report somewhere that concluded only .01% of all the Toyotas on the road are affected by the recalls. Yet look at the headlines. I wonder if the media ever feel any remorse for exaggerating their coverage and causing a disproportionate public reaction.

  2. My first car was a Toyota Corolla. The most reliable car I’ve ever had. Boring as hell, but very safe. Now I drive a Jeep Wranger, and after one slight drop of rain the car slides all over the road. We get a great deal of rain here in the UK too.
    __________
    Hmm, I’d think traction in the rain would be more related to tires than to the specific vehicle, with 4WD helping a lot if you have it.

  3. I don’t think the media is exaggerating anything. Toyota knew about this problem for a long time and didn’t do anything about it. You’d think the way {{wrong}} information is passed around so easily these days that they would have rushed to get their information out in a timely manor. You mentioned that .01% of all the Toyota’s on the road are affected by the recalls which doesn’t sound like much until you realize they are recalling MILLIONS of cars. And, for the families of those that lost their loved ones to this… I cannot even imagine.

    I’ll be the first to tell you that if I was driving along and my car just began to unexpectedly accelerate- most likely I wouldn’t know how to react. However, if I knew of this problem potentially happening I’d be better prepared to deal with it – if God forbid it happen to me. I’d know to throw it into neutral or whatever. So coming forward earlier could have helped save lives or prevent serious accidents.
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    Early on I might have thought, okay, you’ve got one small problem, so you’ll quietly recall a few cars and fix them and that will be the end of it. But no, the problems kept surfacing — from all over the world. A responsible company would have jumped out ahead of the story and explained all the problems themselves, before the media ever heard about them. I don’t know how we’re supposed to trust a company that only grudgingly admits there might be a wee little problem or two — only AFTER thousands of complaints and hundreds of incidents and many days of media reports.

    Stay tuned for a pile of lawsuits …

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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