Toyota sales back home in Japan have yet to show a sign of suffering (they were up 49.9 percent in February while the Japanese market rose 35.1 percent.) However, Toyota’s reputation is taking a hit in the Land of the Rising Sun, says The Nikkei [sub]. Depends on how you look at it: 40 percent of Japanese consumers in a recent survey said Toyota’s troubles have undermined their confidence. 58.4 percent said the issues have not changed their opinion of Toyota, 1.4 percent said they now hold the firm in higher regard.
The poll was conducted on March 1-2 by TNS-Infoplan Inc., a week after Akio Toyoda apologized on Capitol Hill and days after he bowed to the Chinese in Beijing. I was in Japan at the time, and you could feel the embarrassment and loss of face.
Polls of that kind are generally useless, results change daily, depending on the news. What counts are the opinions of owners of the brand (and those of other brands) who are about to buy another vehicle. TNS should know that, they have years of experience from the conduction of the (usually secret) European Customer Satisfaction study for European automakers. Another way of interpreting the data would be “majority of Japanese unfazed by Toyota’s troubles.” But that doesn’t sell expensive studies.