By on July 30, 2010

Some people (like about half of the nation) are convinced the Government has a conflict of interest when it comes to Toyota. Many believe there is a witchhunt against Toyota by a government, and by unions that want GM’s major competitor bleed money and market share before the big GM IPO. 25 percent believe the criticism stems from an outright desire to help GM, while 38 percent disagree and 37 percent aren’t sure. Whatever the reason may be, Toyota is beginning to show battle fatigue.

The Wall Street Journal found a forecast that says that Toyota’s July sales will be shown with a minus in front when they are published on Monday, “while nearly every other car company’s sales are up.” Jesse Toprak, an analyst with TrueCar, says that “Toyota is going to be the only major auto maker to post a sales decline in July.”

Toprak’s crystal ball sees Toyota down by 4.4 percent in July, while Honda will be up 4 percent, Ford should increase 8.4 percent, and GM a whopping 23 percent. Toprak thinks by the end of the year, Toyota’s U.S. market could be less than16 percent.

According to the WSJ, it’s Toyota’s own fault:

In a way it was market share, or Toyota’s obsession with it, that got the car maker into so much trouble. For decades Toyota built a reputation as a maker of dependable, well-built vehicles that rarely had problems. But in the past decade the company shifted its attention to gaining market share. As Toyota ramped up production to support increased sales volume, it may have sacrificed quality. Does this sound familiar? It is the same flawed strategy that had the Detroit Three looking like endangered species a year or so ago.

A little smear campaign also helps. Says the WSJ:

The bad news for Toyota is the advantage of perceived quality it had over nearly every rival car brand is gone. And with competitors making better vehicles than ever, it may never regain its lead.

There are at least 76,750 Americans who think that was the whole idea – if statistics can be believed.

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54 Comments on “Recalls Leave Toyota Traumatized...”


  • avatar
    ceipower

    Honda , although smaller in scale is very much following Toyota in it’s quest to increase Market Share at the expense of quality. They will fall from grace as well if they maintain the current path.Corporate arrogance is at an all time high at Honda , and it’s just a matter of time before the Accord and Civic fall victim to some cost cutting fiasco.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Only in America eh! Sales here in Ontario Canada are up, at least at my dealer in Guelph, Ontario.

    I do think it ie your Obama Government and the UAW are behind this whole smear campaign against Toyota, as well as other Asian maker of Vehicles, I do know despite a good person like Mikey that the General Motors of yesterday and probably today screwed Canadians over thirty plus years, also despite our Dollar value, we have to pay thousands more than US Citizens do for the same Vehicle, it’s certainly not fair imho!As we also supply you with Petrol, over 80 percent of what you use, I think that Canada should charge more if not, export it to China if you don’t like Oil from our Tar Sands.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      George

      If it were only the Detroit three screwing you on paying a premium for cars more cheaply available a few miles to the south of you, I could understand your observation. But I know that this is true of other makes as well – high end German makes for example. Is the cause your tax and benefits structure?

      I bought a very nice used sports car a couple of years ago – a Cayman S. Every 2 1/2 years I pay as much in health insurance as that car cost me (I’m a business owner and get to see the cost of benefits directly). If our current Feckless Leader gets his way, you’ll have no reason to envy us in a relatively few short years when our taxes will simply have to ramp upwards to begin to cover the ruinous debt that is being recklessly increased. It may not equalize car prices, but it will certainly trend in that direction.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The interesting thing is that, by objective measures, their quality really hasn’t gone down. It did at the end of the 1990s, but it’s been more or less on an even keel since then, as has Honda’s.

    What is interesting is the disconnect between objective quality and the media’s misinterpretation of such. I used to be sure this wasn’t an issue for Toyota—as long as their cars weren’t putting people out of pocket, it would blow over—but I’m wavering on that: despite making vehicles that, by and large, aren’t breaking or costing their owners a fortune, it’s starting to crack.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out. One one hand, the media doesn’t “get” that recalls and quality aren’t linked, but the story passes the “sniff test” and thusly makes some sense. On the other they have the attention span of a toddler, and there’s been a solid decade or more of Toyota’s products being very, very good to their owners.

    And yes, this officially qualifies as a perception gap. :)

    • 0 avatar

      Not true. Toyota quality has dropped. In the J.D. Powers & Associates 2010 annual initial quality survey, Toyota has fallen to 21st place from 7th the year before. Respondents suggested that Toyota quality is now just “average.”

      Timothy M Mojonnier

      http://wp.me/pQr4T-ac

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Tim, Toyota dropped in the 90 day study because the government forced Toyota to recall every call to shorten the gas pedal so multiple floor mats can be stacked up top of each other. What a joke.

      Then there is the so called sticking gas pedals. A total of 8 warranty claims out of many millions of cars on the road. To me, that sounds like a bunch of garbage. I bet every brand of car has 8 warranty claims on gas pedals. Where are the recalls?

      The Toyota story is nothing more than a smear campaign.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Initial quality is an interesting metric, and not a particularly useful one given that a) JDP’s IQS doesn’t distinguish between a piece of trim falling off and your transmission doing the same at speed and b) it’s generally covered under warranty anyway. This may be a moot point because regardless of the IQS’ usefulness as a metric, it’s evidently useful as quotable material.

      A better metric than IQS is one of the TCO surveys, especially those 3-5 and 5-10 years. In those, they’re still doing quite well.

    • 0 avatar

      psarhjinian

      I think that initial quality is important, because it affects the consumer’s perception of the brand. Also, if there are problems in fit and finish, doesn’t that suggest that their may be bigger defects underneath the hood?

      But you make a good point. Reliability, which can only be determined after the vehicle has been driven, is an equally important measure. On that score, Toyota has been on a decline for several years now. For example, in its 2007 report, Consumer Reports indicated that the V6 version of Toyota’s best selling Camry and the four-wheel-drive V8 version of the Tundra pickup, were rated below-average in terms of reliability. As a result, these models no longer made Consumer Reports recommended list. Consumer Reports could clearly see cracks in Toyota’s armor 3 years ago.

      http://wp.me/pQr4T-7i

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Tim, Toyota is #1 in long term durability in the 5-10 year range as measured in the April edition of the Consumer Reports publication. #1 means less problems than any other brand.

      The JDPowers stats, whose results stop at 3 years, show all brands doing well since all brands seem to stay together until then.

      Did I mention the JDPowers reports are paid for by the auto industry? Conflict of interest?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Volkswagen seems to be the same road as Honda and Toyota. The new Jetta has been taken down several notches in quality in order to sell it at a lower price point. When their Chattanooga plant starts churning out the new midsize sedan for Americans, it could be chintzier still.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      To hit the price point of 15.9k for a base Jetta, it’s not just interior quality that took a hit.

      The base Jetta comes with the 115 hp 2.0 liter Four that first appeared in the 1993 A3 Jetta & Golf.

      To get the 170 hp 2.5 liter Five, you’ll pay close to 18k.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I find it difficult to believe that any more “quality” could be taken out of the MkV Jetta. What a rancid piece of crap that thing is.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The MkV Jetta, from what I recall, had serious cost problems. I believe the point of the MkVI was to reign in the platform.

      Which, honestly, made me worry. Toyota and Honda had trouble cost-cutting. VW? Err…

  • avatar
    Rusted Source

    This is just the New Coke moment for Toyota before releasing Toyota Classic. People will be singing jubilant praise for the return of the Toyota we all grew up with.

    No conspiracy theory here, just Toyota waking up to realize the error of their ways.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      I think the process, cost and time of changing a car company (not to mention culture) is slightly different than popping the old recipe back in and calling it something different. Did one of my annual dealer inspections a few weekends ago and was amazed at the number of toyotas sitting in the Ford trade in lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      Rusted Source, the problem with that is Toyota’s problems now were twelve years in the making, when they made a major transition, in their product development engineering, to go with my cyber space testing of virtual prototypes, and far, far fewer real world prototypes being tested. Their whole goal was to speed up product development, in order to be the first out with the freshest product, and to reduce costs. They can try and make all the changes they want now, because right now, and for the foreseeable future, they’re going to reap what they sowed by spending the last twelve years rushing product to market. They quality problems are now designed in.

  • avatar
    jj99

    In the April Consumer Reports issue, they have a graph in the used car section that shows the results from a survey where consumers report the number of problems per brand. From 1-3 years old, all cars are about the same. From 5-10 years old, only Toyota and Honda brands shine. The rest suffer a lot of breakdowns.

    JDPowers, whose quality studies are funded by Detroit, all stop at 3 years. Detroit trumpets these short term JD Powers results in all of their marketing. Makes you wonder what the JDPowers results would be in the 5 to 10 year range. I wonder if Detroit paid for those, saw the results, then deep sixed them.

    The so called Toyota quality problem is nothing more than a war on Toyota by our car industry and the government. It is a shame.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I don’t think it’s the domestics or the government; it’s the media. Toyota’s fall is great copy, and, if you don’t dig much, it makes sense (cost cutting, rapid growth, recalls, etc).

      But that’s the problem. Most media outlets don’t dig much. Digging costs time and effort and doesn’t give you much a return on investment. Worse, it can get you labelled as “elitist” and out of touch with the common man.

      Personally, this offends me. When did being accurate, learned and nuanced become a liability in media or in government, and when did it get replaced by pig-headed populism.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      psarhjinian, I watched the Democrats in the Toyota trials this spring. They leveled false accusations against Toyota with media cameras rolling. The NHTSA, part of the Obama administration, even told America to “Stop Driving Your Toyota”. I wanted to puke. Never again will I vote for a Democrat.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I have some bad news for you then.

      One, Ray La Hood is a Republican. Two, don’t kid yourselves that Republicans (with a few exceptions, eg, Barr or Paul) wouldn’t do exactly the same thing for exactly the same reasons (showboating and dog-piling is political de riguer), and Three, you have only two choices in the US anyways.

      Politicians were being wagged by the media, not the other way around. They wanted to get in front of the issue, look like the were doing something and being decisive and leader-ish, and score a few points. They weren’t, however, the source of the event: that was the people working a good evil company/grieving family angle for all it’s worth.

      Frankly, I’m not sure how anyone could possibly defend themselves once the Fifth Estate smells blood in the water.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      jj99, spoken like someone who has no knowledge of the auto industry. These recalls are due to a major change in how Toyota engineered about twelve years ago where they sped up the process by relying less on building testing actual physical prototypes, and shifted their emphasis to virtual testing, of virtual prototypes, in cyberspace. All the Toyota fans, at that time, touted this as an example of Toyota’s superiority, and blasted anyone who disagreed with them, but those of us who spent time working in the auto parts supplier community always doubted that this would work out well for Toyota.

      Well, the chickens are coming home to roost – even if Toyota’s recent shift toward more real world testing of real physical prototyping ramps up (which in reality, it hasn’t), Toyota is going to have more than a decade of poor engineering & product development causing one recall after another. This isn’t the peak of Toyota’s recalls. This is the tip of the iceberg

      And if you think I’m exaggerating, or even worse, wrong, about this, stop and ask yourselves a question:

      How often, over the last ten years, have you seen Autoblog, TTAC, Motor Trend, or Car & Driver, or any other car publication/web site, display the latest spy shots of the most recent Toyota prototype anything?

      Answer: Not very often at all. You can’t take spy shots of something that was never built.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      “This isn’t the peak of Toyota’s recalls. This is the tip of the iceberg” – I am amazed at the number of chicken littles on the innertubes.

      No auto company designs a car on a computer and immediately starts building. CAD/CAM is a tool that speeds up the process. Finite Element Analysis assists to point out physical, thermal, electrical weaknesses in the early design stages and speed the time from concept to production. All car companies, heck, just about every product design company utilizes these tools and for the same reason. Yes, this does lead to less testing. Why? Because there are less iterations required for physical, hardware related validations because you have discovered weaknesses and design them out before you even physically build one component. Toyota’s are tested and validated to meet customer requirements and government regulations the same as every other manufacturer…..typically, their requirements for component validation testing is more severe than other OEM’s.

    • 0 avatar
      Len_A

      1996MEdition, no chicken little here. This is something Toyota’s previous president publically admitted was the case, shortly after Toyota settled the engine oil sludge class action.

  • avatar

    I agree that Toyota is reaching a tipping point. Years ago, the name Toyota signified quality. Recently, when I surveyed a number of young people between the ages of 19-24, the feeling seemed to be: “Why take a risk with a Toyota, when you can obtain equal or better quality with a Hyundai or Honda.” See http://wp.me/pQr4T-97

    The constant news of recalls is clearly beginning to take a toll on the brand.

    Timothy M Mojonnier

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Toyota for me has meant crap since they launched the 1999 Corolla (round headlamps) and the accompanying Starlet here.

      Having seen the interiors of the Prado they sold here and the Hilux they’re currently selling makes me wonder why people pays so much for so little.

      Then, I found in the interwebz the sludge issue, the FJ-Cruiser cracked bodies, the 4×4 ball joints breaking. And finally we arrive to last year recall, the Lexus recall (both the ESC and the valve springs one), the Tacoma recall… I’m sure we will see many more in the future.

      When I told my employees that Toyota quality is an illusion (in 2007), they looked at me like some crazy guy was talking to them. Not so anymore.

  • avatar
    jj99

    What upsets me is the recent WSJ report that claims a person in NHTSA revealed the results of the run away Toyota data. It appeared every accident was the result of the driver pushing the gas instead of the brake. Obama refuses to release the results. Terrible.

    Any minor problem in Toyota is called a saftey issue by Obama, printed all over the media, and cars are recalled.

    In the meantime, the 2010 Ford Fusion transmission problem gets a free ride.

    If you want a perfect car, get a Toyota. Thanks to Obama and the NHTSA, if the vehicle is not perfect, it will be made perfect.

    And if you are unfortunate to purchase a UAW car, you are on your own. As witnessed by the 2010 Ford Fusion transmission problem, NHTSA will look the other way.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I’m no fan of the UAW, but I don’t think they can be blamed for the Made in Mexico Fusion. Regarding the Obama administration, the political appointees lack business experience and may be flailing around due to ignorance instead of malice. Lawyers and academics with no understanding of Statistics and the logistics of manufacturing.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      see my comment below.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    A few weeks after we bought our last Toyota I started noticing things I previously took for granted were missing or had been cheapened including no under-hood lamp and a flimsy Masonite spare tire well cover instead of properly finished plywood. My polite letter of concern to Toyota Canada brought a smug, condescending, almost smart-ass reply.

    Our car was mechanically sound but friends who bought a later model Toyota, sadly on our recommendation, experienced near-GM reliability issues. Worse, their dealer stonewalled them. Their car was even more a stripper than ours. They had a hood prop rod instead of proper hydraulic struts and luggage crushing, pressed metal, goose necks instead of articulated trunk hinges. Do they really think people are too stupid to notice?

    We no longer buy nor recommend Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      hi Gardiner (Greetings to Toronto)…

      Do you still have the text of the letter from TMCC? Would be pleased if you would post it here. Thx.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      Sorry Robert.

      Sold the car. Gave my file to the purchaser.

      Got top dollar. Doubt we would do as well today.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Gardiner,

      I’ll take take the prop rod any day over the “fail after a couple of years” hood struts I had in my buick and chrysler.

      The gooseneck hinges I’ve seen in Toyota’s are actually quite rigid, and combined with the torsion bars make for the most reliable operation in the long term.

      I’ll also take the weight savings of not having the plywood in the back of my car.

      I think a lot of automakers are trending in that direction. Just my preference I guess.

  • avatar
    George B

    The problem is the Toyota tradeoff has been damaged by the recalls. Customers pay extra up front for a Toyota to save TIME and money down the road. Even if the recalls are free, the time wasted going to the dealer isn’t free. For the Toyota customer, the ideal Toyota would have a welded shut hood and require zero repairs and as little time for maintenance as possible.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    to jj99:

    Me thinks thou doest protest too much and have thus lost thine perspective.

    NHTSA is responsible for enforcement of safety- and compliance- (e.g. exhaust emissions outside stipulated limits) related issues. Unless the Fusion trans issue has a direct safety-related failure mode, then it is neither within NHTSA’s purvue or mission to do anything about it.

    I’ve been tracking the pedal-entrapment issue for years, and can tell you Toyota blew this issue at every possible juncture and never would have been called before Congress is they had dealt with this mess two to three years previously. TMC’s foot-dragging allowed the issue to escalate into the public perception, and then to reach a flash-point with the death of the Saylor family.

    Too many people are mixing the concepts of initial and/or long-term quality with the issue of recallable safety (or compliance) defects. And an OEM that builds their relationship on the former, shouldn’t be too surprised when the unadressed latter tries to lay waste to decades of carefully crafted, and largly justified, image.

    Total cost of ownership, and long-term quality will always pale in comparison to human-interest issue stories (i.e. burning, drowning, flying-off the roadway and transforming into a pile of scrap with dead occupants inside) and this is only compounded when an OEM demonstrates a history of untimeliness in dealing with said issues.

    And while we are on the bifuricated nature of the auto-industry, let’s look at a case-study: Lexus SUV. In the past month we’ve seen bad press (Consumer Reports) and recall for stability issues (which were promptly addressed – once exposed), and now a recall for steering shaft separation (drive over more than a moderate bump, and the steering shaft can compress and not properly extend, such that it can eventually separate and cause loss of steering – this failure mode is one belonging to a rank amateur.) Here, a customer is less likely to make decision on total cost of ownership, and more on the basis of safety and reliability.

    For those that enjoy reading about recalls not happening in NAFTA, and don’t mind the documents not being available in English, go visit (turn on Google translate and you can read the high-level data in English): http://www.mlit.go.jp/jidosha/recall/recall10/recall_.html – then realize that Toyota is lucky that their Daihatsu brand is not also sold in the U.S. as there seems to be no end of silly safety-related recalls on these cute little cars.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      The 2010 Ford Fusion Transmission issue is a safety problem. Imagine making a left turn while timing a slot in traffic, then the transmission slips, and bing, you get broadsided. Sounds like a safety issue to me. Would you allow your wife or teenage daughter drive a vehicle with this risk? I did not think so.

      In addition, your claim of Toyota being unsafe is without merit. Do you have any data showing more people die in Toyota vehicles per miles driven than other brands?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      jj99,
      I have read up on the 2010 Ford Fusion Transmission issue. I hadn’t heard about it yet. But, I am not sure it is a safety issue. It sounds like this would at first only effect 4-6 gears. Hardly the gear you would be in traffic trying to make a left turn. Later on, it could effect more gears, which would describe the incident you were mentioning. But one would think that the car should have been fixed before gears 1-3 would be effected.

      I can see how this would and would not be a recall. Many manufactures send out “customer satisfaction notices” or other items that aren’t officially recalled. I do not understand the gray area between what is a recall and would can be done with these campaigns. But, pointing out another manufactures problems doesn’t in any way make the problems of a different manufacture better.

      Also, I don’t think Robert actually said they were unsafe. He did however say that Toyota wasn’t timely in issuing the recall, something that could have been a few years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      jj99

      You are bang on about the Ford transmission issue being a safety problem… and now a hidden one at that. They didn’t react when their trucks were burning people’s houses down, so why would they react now?

      BTW I’m very impressed with Robert Walter’s extensive use of an online thesaurus. It entices me to give more credibility to everything he says!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Canuck, this descendent of a Newfie sends his thanks for your compliments. Re. the on-line thesaurus, the one I use is carbon- rather than silicon-based, and is also the one directly responsible for any misspellings or grammer mistakes. Re. the accuracy of my statements, these are informed by nearly 30-years in the automotive industry in a number of diverse roles and a lot of this being, but not exclusively, on the engineering, design, testing, manufacturing, quality, warranty, investigation and liability sides of the business and having to do with powertrain and safety items and, in that time, assignments on 4-continents and living on 3 of them.

      jj66: Just saying my claims are without merit does not make it so. Indeed, anyone that has been impartially paying attention to the issue at hand will find nothing impeachable amongst my comments.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Robert,

      You’ve previously enlightened me to your wide range of accomplishments in the auto industry.

      It would be difficult to defend Toyota’s “foot dragging” on some issues in recent years. This isn’t my point. My point is that this phenomenon is not unique to Toyota. It is one shared by ALL automakers. (now please tell me that this is not true so that I can reply with a host of examples…of which you already know about) However, the way Toyota’s dealings were handled by the U.S. Gov. and the media were downright lopsided! It doesn’t take nearly 30 years in the auto industry to have witnessed the atrocities committied by the US congress, reporters rushing to judgement with ZERO facts, and citizens jumping on the bandwagon trying to score a quick buck.

      Statistically speaking, Toyota has made more reliable vehicles (long term) than most or all other automakers in the past decade. Their albatross was that they were only slightly better than the rest rather than God-like, which was the perception.

      The Lexus GX case… really? A man of your self-proclaimed expertise shouldn’t need to go there. A tall, off-road capable, body on frame SUV may skid off-course if you take an off-ramp at 60 mph? And then the way the media covered that non-issue (no reported incidents or accidents) was really very special. So what did Toyota do about this? They tweaked the software… immediately! (they tweaked it to intrude earlier when previously Lexus’ VSC has been criticized for intruding too soon) They didn’t wait until it was exposed because it arguably never existed in the first place!

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      The atrocities, rushing and jumping you cite are part and parcel of modern life and business and mostly reflect the human tendency to over-shoot, as in control theory, a target or issue.

      There is no sure way to avoid this, one can set the stage and fan the flames by 1) allowing a gap to form between perception and reality, 2) building a rep on one attribute, yet failing to manage any other attributes which could quickly diminish or destroy that rep, 3) diverging from the policies and or practices responsible for building that rep, 3.1) not, or unsuccessfully adapting these to changing circumstances, 3.2) resting on one’s laurels, or believing one’s own press, 4) not acting proactively, 5) acting slowly when publicity of an issue erupts, 6) reacting clumsily when events supercede publicity.

      Perhaps the stability control issue was a PR-exercise for both the media and TMC, but this would mean that Consumer Reports was doing just a cheap media stunt to gain subscribers… with the downside risk being that they would trash their reputation for impartiality and accuracy in the process (picking on TMC might seem like an easy target, but with so many years of positive TMC reviews in the past, C.R. ran the risk of somebody, be it readers, owners, other publications, TMC, or NHTSA calling B.S. on the instability claim. Contrary to your wishes, my bringing up this point does nothing to invalidate this or any of my other claims.

      Your defending the vehicle because it is a BOF SUV also works against you. The trend for SUV’s in this class is only recently toward unit-construction, and so there are a host of similar vehicles which were not publically flagged for this kind of instability (far as I know, if you find examples, please make sure they had an equivalent stability control system), and I’m aware of no recent change in C.R.’s test methodology, so the C.R’s playing field, as far as TMC’s concerned, is about as level as it will get.

      Furthermore, you really missed the key point of my Lexus SUV comments, which was on the issue of flubbing the design of the steering system.

      You cite statistical reliability, and fall into the same mixing pit as many others that confuse reliability and safety. Admittedly there is some relation here, but I am not interested in IQS metrics or the like, nor am I intersted here in comparative analysis. I am more or less talking about FMVSS recallable safety issues, and am doing it in an absolute, rather than comparative, way.

      I can tell you, for the several recall issues that I have been involved in, the OEM’s did not drag their feet, the time from discovery to reporting to NHTSA was measured in hours, to containment was a couple of days, and to effective counter-measures was less than a week.

      TMC’s albatross was, quite possibly, one of it’s own making, in that believing too strongly it’s own carefully-crafted image acted against digging into issues due to a) believing that they were not as serious as they were, or b) for fear of doing self-damage to the brand (the same gave rise to so-called secret recalls.) Whether unintentional or intentional, this kind of self- or public-deception, or a combination of both, and to whatever degree, had it occurred, would tend to be an increasing function which could only be broken once the divergence between perception and reality had gone on too long and become too wide.

      Regarding that albatross, it, conversely, will likely be TMC’s saviour, because once the short-term organizational and technical issues of safety are overcome, as they likely will be, the issues of sluggishness with respect to containment and reporting of safety defects will fade from memory, and attention will, rightly, revert to the long-term issue of quality, reliability and value each of these being attributes where TMC excels.

      p.s. If you find it necessary to list other OEM’s sins, please confine them to after say year 2000 (we all know, and agree, about the bad old days, but they are not really relevant to modern times.)

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      ” The atrocities, rushing and jumping you cite are part and parcel of modern life and business and mostly reflect the human tendency to over-shoot, as in control theory, a target or issue. ”

      So now that we’ve determined it has been ridiculously covered, I would like to ask why Ford’s cruise control switch hasn’t been covered twice as heavily? There was so much foot dragging here that Ford has nothing but nubs on the ends of their ankles. (which is starting to wear to the knees over this Fusion transmission issue)

      And if you want more recent foot dragging, then GM knew about their power steering issue for multiple years before a recall after NHTSA investigation. Hyundai waited as long as they could before having to recall a million for corrosion, electrical etc. Did we ever get a proper recall on Chrysler’s van transmissions?

      Fact is, the new Toyota regime is going overboard now to try and prove a point. The most recent recalls are all voluntary, and involve some very small incident rates. At the end of the day, it will involve a hit to short term sales…. it’s just too competitive right now. Long term remains to be seen, but looks better for Toyota.

      I understand that you’d like to capitalize on this time to try and distinguish Toyota from other automakers. Fact is, too many people have been through too much crap with all automakers to be fooled in to thinking one is a lot better than the other. (aside from blind fanaticism)

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. After owning many new Toyota vehicles, and having no issues at all, I’ll keep that going until I have a reason to switch brands.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Canuck,
      You must realize that Toyota has been dragging their feet on several recalls. Saying someone else did something similar doesn’t matter, two wrongs don’t make a right. You also talk about low incident rates… well how high were the incident rate of Ford’s fires with its cruise control? I think the reason you are seeing more news about Toyota recalls is that they have had several recalls issued recently. That alone is drawing the attention. You should also look at the dates in the vehicles that they are recalling. Some of them are quite old. Either the problem is only now surfacing, or they new about it a long time ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Steven

      I’m not sure if I mislead you or perhaps you just didn’t understand. I don’t believe that I’ve said that two wrongs make a right. Did I? I believe that I was making a correct point about the level of coverage of different issues. Perhaps Ford didn’t deserve a crazy amount of negative coverage for their issues and lack of control over them. At a few hundred fires, the incident rate In the Ford cruise control cases is as high. That recall is 15 million vehicles! Not even at the same time! Which means they knew there was a problem then didn’t deal with all of the vehicles at once because it would have been too difficult and/or expensive. And as for the age of the vehicles? Have you been paying attention to the Windstar investigation?

      As facts start coming out, even NHTSA is having a hard time proving the Toyota issue.

      Again Steven, let me help you understand. ALL automakers know about problems for a long time before they deal with them…. They are in business. That doesn’t make it right! If anything maybe Toyota will set a new bar on dealing with inevitable issues sooner, therefore cutting down on the chances of them happening in the first place. Either way, we the consumers win. (plus I bought a new Toyota this year, and got a much better deal than I otherwise would have!!)

  • avatar
    Tachyon

    Average age of an Avalon buyer is now 64, according to NY Times reports…

    How about a new ad campaign: “This is not your granddad’s Corolla…”
    That worked so well for Olds.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    After all the problems and breakdowns I had with my 2 GM trucks (which are supposed to be the cream of the crop in the entire lineup) I’ll take a Toyota recall any day. At least Toyota will fix the problem, the GM dealers I visited were as arrogant as the company claiming it was my fault for the breakdowns and the numerous problems.

    …because I sabotaged my own Intermediate Steering shafts that they needed to be replaced more than once, or my rear axles that would squeel, or the brakes failed, or the electrical gremlins. Ya my fault. Not.

    I probably won’t buy a Toyota ever in my lifetime but I’ll never buy another Governemnt Motors vehicle again either.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      I can’t speak to the other defecits you cite, but as for the I-shafts, GM had a hell of a problem with this component (Ford and Chrysler have had their share of woes here too), but as a result of the issue with the pick-ups, GM implemented a very stringent acceptance test for stick-slip which is a barrier every potential i-shaft supplier has to overcome to be allowed to bid on any new i-shaft business.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    The Toyota witch-hunt is an attempt by Government Motors, led by a Mr.LaHood, to weaken Toyota and promote GM’s crappy cars.

    That’s all it is. Obama’s job is to sell the gov’s con-job of bailing out GM by taking subtle digs at Ford and siccing LaHood on Toyota.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Do people really think all of Toyota’s problems are a government conspiracy? Really? I don’t see that , or any real proof that even suggests such a thing. The press maybe overblowing it , but thats the world we live in today. Faux News,anyone? On the other hand, there’s a long documented history of Detroit hiding and denying paint problems,powertrain problems, brake problems ,etc. Toyota is fully responsible for the situation they are in. They let things side and denied things until it bit them back hard. It doesn’t mean all Toyotas are bad , it does mean they got fat, lazy and arrogant.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    To follow up to Canuck129’s comment above: I agree that most automakers are trending in this direction, but not for weight savings (that may be the case with the trunk liner, but likely not so with the gooseneck hinges vs. hydraulic struts); rather, they are doing it in the name of cost reduction.

    Triple door seals versus single; gooseneck hinges versus hydraulic struts. When 90% of the purchasers won’t notice, why not just go with the less expensive alternative and either reduce the car’s price to make it more competitive or pocket the proceeds? It’s what the domestic manufacturers did to the extreme in the 80s and 90s and, to some extent, contributed to their current plight. They are not alone; other foreign makes are doing it as well. Benz, with the transition from W124/140 to the W210/220, engaged in significant cost-cutting. Apparently, according to the statistics, Toyota has been able to cut costs and keep the reliability up.

    Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but I’m among the 10% that do actually notice these cuts. I wonder if Toyota will ever get back to the pre-cost-cutting level of componentry they used in the ’91-’96 Camry, which might actually set it apart to me as a manufacturer, despite its products being relatively uninspiring, or if this is the new way of the world.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Wagen,

      I didn’t mention gooseneck hinges in relation to weight savings, rather reliability. (And the trunk mouth is larger even if the hinge can get in the way when closing.)

      Didn’t 91-96 Camry’s use torsion bars too?

      Look, I’m not naive enough to not notice cost reductions in cars, however, the 91-96 camry didn’t have a driver’s side knee airbag either… and the list could go on and on.

      I could argue with you point for point about how current cars are quieter than new cars from 15 years ago, so the door seals must be better now, but I understand your point and kind of agree with it. I would rather some (not all) of the little touches, but I also need to be able to afford it, and I don’t want to have to fix it as much later. I also appreciate it being light enough to be properly powered by a modern 4 cylinder.

      This could be the new way of the world, but it may not be all bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but I’m among the 10% that do actually notice these cuts

      You’re not alone. I see the cost cutting in every brand.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    Obviously a witchhunt to those who did not go to American public school…The Murricans also believe that BP was responsible for the oil leak when BP had NOTHING to do with ownership or operation of the rig. Murricans are really just unthinking emotion-driven brats…Especially the ones who watch TV and those who vote.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    Toyota is about to post a $1.2 Billion profit for this quarter. I bet many car companies wish they were this “traumatized” and “fatigued” by being able to post similar profits without bailouts or bankruptcy.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Even outside of the recalls, Toyota has a slew of problems that made them uncompetitive. The cars are not at all fun to drive. The cars are not particularly more reliable than the competition. Some cars seem to get all the engineering effort (Prius), while the rest seem to have gone materially unchanged for years (Corolla, Camry- the bread and butter). There’s no reason to buy a Toyota over any other car, and in these tough economic times I think people are realizing this


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