By on August 12, 2010

The Nikkei [sub] reminds Toyota fanpersons and Toyota haters alike that Toyota “still faces uncertain times despite the preliminary findings of a U.S. Transportation Department investigation that indicate driver error may have been a contributing factor.” You mean, that wasn’t the fat lady? You mean, we have to wait for someone more obese?

The DOT says that they aren’t done yet with Toyota. It was an interim report only, and the search for the ghost in the machine continues.

The real ghost-in-the-machine investigations have been outsourced to experts in the search for extraterrestrials and other flummoxing problems, namely the NASA and the National Academy of Sciences. They will take their good ole time before they say something

NASA could release findings as soon as this month or next, but don’t be surprised if they say that “further research is needed.”

The NAS already said that one shouldn’t expect anything from them before next spring. These guys are thorough. Even making nice by pulling out of Iran won’t help. The DOT has Toyota on slow roast. The longer there is Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD), the better for the domestics.

The Nikkei is needlessly pointing out that “Toyota is still having a relatively rough time, with new-car sales in the U.S. slipping 3 percent on the year in July.” However, the brand hasn’t lost its luster: 57 percent.  of new Toyota cars sold were bought by customers who had been driving other brands. “This was the first time since the recalls that the rate has topped 50%,” enthuses a Toyota official.

The Nikkei also reminds us that “back in the 1980s, German automaker Audi AG faced a strong backlash in the U.S. over allegations of unintended acceleration. Even though the transportation department ultimately ruled that the cause was driver error, it took a long time for Audi’s sales to recover.” Ain’t that the truth. And to celebrate that truism, a really bad rendition of “Out of the Woods.”

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9 Comments on “Nikkei: Toyota Not Out Of The Woods...”

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    Toyota will be fine. It earned almost as much as GM this quarter. And if it can close that quality perception gap with GM, its potential earnings are unlimited.

    • 0 avatar

      “It earned almost as much as GM this quarter.”

      Eh…hm, it’s quite an understatement, isn’t it?
      The last I heard, GM earned $1.3b last quarter while Toyota earned more than $2b.

  • avatar

    It will take much more than this to make a really big dent in Toyota’s reputation. For example that they get GM’s one.

    They did a good move not acknowledging a fault when they paid the fine.

    What would eventually dent them is the continuous arise of defects and recalls. The SUA incident did something good in showing that they’re like any other manufacturer and are not perfect. And of course, defects that were previously unknown, are going to surface. People is going to publicly complain.

  • avatar

    Given the problem has now graduated to the level of rocket science I think it would be fair to expect that NASA can and should release its findings in the same amount of time it took to find faulty “O” rings on the Challenger. The Challenger tragedy occurred Jan 28, 1986 – the special commission set up to investigate it reported the “O” ring as the cause June 1986.

    Since NASA has only been at it for a couple of months we should know before Christmas – unless the GM IPO doesn’t goes as well as hoped.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark out West

      NASA had some motivation to speed things up – they wanted to get back flying again ASAP. No such luck for Toyota.

      The only known certainty in this case is this: Ray LaHood is an idiot.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, the talking heads at the news channels had on-air experts suggesting O-ring failure the same day as the disaster, since it was pretty obvious in high-speed imagery. The Rogers Commission documented the entire story, including the engineering analysis.

      The difficulty with Toyota UA is that there is no obvious cause. Maybe NASA will put the same people on it who find man-made global warming on every glacier, but ignore the fact that every other planet is also warming.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    A Nickel Creek cover video! I suggest this video of Sara performing instead:

  • avatar

    “57 percent of new Toyota cars sold were bought by customers who had been driving other brands … This was the first time since the recalls that the rate has topped 50%”

    Which could also mean less people who were Toyota owners were inspired to buy another one. Repeat buyers are probably more important to a brand than conquest ones because they require less marketing and are more likely to recommend the brand to someone else.

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