By on August 14, 2010

Do you remember when Saturn made a last ditch attempt to bring customers back to their showrooms? It asked us to “Rethink” Saturn. Whatever our perception was of them, we almost certainly had it wrong and we had to check them out once more. Ford did a similar thing with “Have you driven a Ford lately?” It’s quite a clever strategy, convince the customer that they had it wrong about your product and invite them to try them again. Well, Toyota seems to trying a similar tactic in order to woo customers back and polish up their corporate image. Now at this point you’re expecting me to unveil some hokey advert which asks us “Try Toyota” (if Toyota is reading this, give me a call and we can work out a licensing fee for my ad slogan). Wrong. It’s not their products. They are fine.

Toyota asks us to rethink the meaning of recall.

According to Toyota’s “Point Of View” section on their pressroom website, “recall” is not a four-letter word. You see, most people see recalls as a time when the automaker (whoever that may be) fourlettered-up, has noticed a flaw in the car and needs to fix it. But not Toyota. In their own words, recalls are “an integral part of our commitment to standing by our products and being responsive to our customers. Put another way, ‘recall’ is not a four-letter word.”

Hold on. Right. It’s not. “Real” would have four letters. “Recall” – definitely not.

Sure, Toyota was hounded unfairly and the whole situation was blown out of proportion.  But lest we forget, Toyota withheld some information, and the accelerator pedal DID have a design flaw. But in the interest of fairness, below is the full article from Toyota’s website. Your comments will be appreciated…

Recall Is Not a Four-Letter Word

What’s in a word? When it comes to the word “recall,” the answer can be a lot, given the media scrutiny that has surrounded Toyota in recent months. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that recalls are an integral part of our commitment to standing by our products and being responsive to our customers. Put another way, “recall” is not a four-letter word.

As Toyota’s Chief Quality Officer for North America, my job is to make sure we act quickly and decisively whenever we identify a quality issue, and I have a direct line on quality to our global president, Akio Toyoda.

Over the long-term, Toyota has built a record of safety, reliability and quality that’s unquestionably strong – and we’ve made significant changes at Toyota in the past several months to make sure we are an even more responsive, safety-focused organization. We’re listening closely to our customers and taking quick, decisive actions to ensure their vehicles are safe. Our strengthened quality assurance team is leaving no stone unturned as it thoroughly examines our entire fleet, including millions of cars and trucks that have performed reliably for more than a decade.

We’ve put more resources into the field – such as rapid response SMART teams to make on-site inspections – so we can better gather, analyze and respond to customer feedback. And, throughout our operations, we’re re-emphasizing the basics of the Toyota Production System, which involve pulling what’s known as an andon cord to stop the production line whenever you see a problem. We aren’t perfect – everyone makes mistakes – but the important thing is to stop the line and fix it.

That’s what we’re doing with our recalls. If we determine that there’s even the slightest safety concern with our cars on the road, we’re not hesitating to address it – sometimes on the basis of just a handful of complaints.

Other automakers are also moving more quickly. While there were 492 recalls across the industry in the U.S. during 2009, more than 300 recall campaigns were announced in the first six months of this year. According to a Detroit News report, our industry is on track this year to recall more than 20 million vehicles, the most since 2004.

We’re also proud of the way our dealers have gone above and beyond in servicing vehicles covered by the three major recalls we announced in late 2009 and early 2010. To date, they’ve completed more than four million remedies, including almost 80 percent of the fixes for possible sticking pedals. That’s a remarkable achievement in a relatively short period.

Obviously, recalls should never be considered business as usual. But there’s another, more common meaning of the word “recall”: and that’s “to remember.” At Toyota, we never want to forget that our goal is to make sure that Toyota drivers are completely confident in the safety and reliability of their vehicles

Steve St. Angelo
North America Chief Quality Officer
Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America

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18 Comments on “Toyota: We Have No Bleeping Recalls...”


  • avatar
    dwford

    How the mighty have fallen.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “As Toyota’s Chief Quality Officer for North America, my job is to make sure we act quickly and decisively whenever we identify a quality issue, and I have a direct line on quality to our global president, Akio Toyoda.” This position, responsibility, autonomy (t.b.c.), and access to the CEO never existed until we took our public whooping…

    “… We’re listening closely to our customers and taking quick, decisive actions to ensure their vehicles are safe…” yes, this too was something that tended not to happen before all the public scrutiny and bad press.

    “… throughout our operations, we’re re-emphasizing the basics of the Toyota Production System, which involve pulling what’s known as an andon cord to stop the production line whenever you see a problem…” No, I didn’t say how this relates, or applies, to pre-production design and quality actions, nor post-production aspects like dealers and cars in the field.

    “We aren’t perfect – everyone makes mistakes…” Now just hold this thought, because I’ll return to it in a later paragraph as I try to paint our competition with the same brush of shame, while simultaneously characterising our disaster as a public service which resulted in other OEMs getting with the NHTSA program…

    “If we determine that there’s even the slightest safety concern with our cars on the road, we’re not hesitating to address it – sometimes on the basis of just a handful of complaints.” Yes, hesitation and cover-up was a thing of the past, and no, please don’t ask how big the hand measuring complaints is, or if it is biased to grow over time…

    “Other automakers are also moving more quickly. While there were 492 recalls across the industry in the U.S. during 2009, more than 300 recall campaigns were announced in the first six months of this year. According to a Detroit News report, our industry is on track this year to recall more than 20 million vehicles, the most since 2004.” See, I told you that I would try to drag others into our issues and thereby not look as absolutely bad as I did previously (I learned this trick from how Steve Jobs blamed other smartphone makers for also having $hitty reception after the iPhone-4 was busted!)

    “We’re also proud of the way our dealers have gone above and beyond in servicing vehicles covered by the three major recalls we announced in late 2009 and early 2010… That’s a remarkable achievement in a relatively short period.” No, please don’t ask me about the overtime pay and incentives paid to accomplish this. And yes, you could say that compared to our previous performance in not timely addressing these recalls, that our latest performance is “remarkable” …

    “there’s another, more common meaning of the word “recall”: and that’s “to remember.” … and reliability of their vehicles” This last sentence was written and added by the PR department … and, yes, they forgot to install a period at the end of the sentence. Please rest assured that we have dispatched a SMART team to investigate, and have reported the non-conformance to the relevant authorities, and will issue a recall notice shortly.

    BTW, it was “Have you driven a Ford lately?” (not “recently”.)

  • avatar
    wmba

    Utter whitewash. Toyota has a system where only the engineers in Japan can order a recall, even if the head of a Toyota operating area, like Toyota Canada, wants (needs) to replace floormats.

    In Canada, and I see no reason why it would be different anywhere else, especially as the head of that company said so under oath at hearings here, Toyota dragged their feet for 11 weeks on Venza floormat recalls.

    Transport Canada told them to do something last Oct 2. Wasn’t till Dec 19 they did anything, because some faceless engineers in Tokyo had to agree. As was pointed out to Toyota, Canada could care less about Japanese engineers okaying it. The cars were sold in Canada, the problem was identified. Now get on with it!

    Not impressed with Toyota at all. And this press release is revisionism and whitewash. Have they really changed at all? I’m not seeing it.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    BS worthy of GM in their darkest days.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    “If we determine that there’s even the slightest safety concern with our cars on the road, we’re not hesitating to address it – sometimes on the basis of just a handful of complaints.”

    Might be too late, too little in view of the LA Times item “Toyota’s Lexus ES issues: A chronology”.

    http://tinyurl.com/28tdd6j

    • 0 avatar
      dkulmacz

      Wow. That is a rather damning timeline . . .

      That should be mandatory reading for some of the more rabid Toyota fanboiz around here. Or is the LA Times in cahoots with Obama and the UAW? It’s hard to keep track these days . . .

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Seems to be a steady progression of things until May 2006 … then nothing until Jan 2010. Surely there must have been other relevant events worthy of inclusion during that 2-1/2 year gap.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      But company officials ruled out solving the problem “due to the complications as well as costs associated with a change from three to four engine mounts,” according to a memo written by Toyota’s outside counsel regarding the same meeting. – LA Times

      Clearly, for unfortunate 2002-2006 Lexus ES owners, the wheels had come off the “Relentless Pursuit of Perfection”. The redesigned 2007 ES, released less than a year later, had four engine mounts.

      http://tinyurl.com/29g6bmo

  • avatar

    Recall is the ONLY word. Thank goodness yesterday was my LAST day fixing those POS`s, spare tire carrier rust, frame rust (frames stacked like cordwood waiting for install), fuel tank strap rust,broken valve springs, VVTi gears self destructing (get to take out the entire eng/trans to fix that one)…I could go on. The MYTH of Toyota “quality” is just that a myth (based on vehicles from 15 years ago that actually were reliable). IMO they are riding the coattails of success from a decade ago. I truly feel for someone who owns, or has to work on them ANYWHERE remotely close to possibly being in the “rust belt”. The lack of corrosion protection is amazing, sure the BODY panels remain rust free and shiny but all the hardware holding the thing together is 4th rate dime store garbage.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Depends on what your definition of “is” is.

  • avatar
    golf4me

    If they recall their arrogance, then I’ll be impressed. Having dealt with Toyota (in testing) they really had this coming. Funny that the US people blame everything on Japan. Let me tell you that the US arm of Toyota is as, if not more, arrogant than the Japanese. Karma is a B1t(#.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    They’d be better off to not say a word, since their sales and profits are good. People know the UA thing was mostly hokum.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Just rented a Ford Fusion, really nice car. Toyota has a lot to be worried about.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I have a Fusion parked in the garage next to my mother’s Corolla…and while I like my Ford, I don’t see Toyota having to stay up late at night worrying. My observations are only incidental to the vehicles owned in the family, but right now we’re sitting on a 1997 Tercel (nearly 200k absolutely trouble-free miles…I don’t think I ever want to get rid of this car), a 2003 Highlander with 160k+ and the only real issue we have right now is a loose A/C knob and then my mother’s 2003 Corolla…admittedly, it only has 77k, but again, no issues. Before that, a 1993 Camry that went 10+ years without fail, and way before that, a 1981 Corolla that also went 10+ years (my mother keeps her cars at least 10). We’re not rabid Toyota fanboys, but it really is hard to argue my mother away from another Toyota when she goes to replace the ’03 Corolla in two or so years. Then again, she cares not a whiff about trying to impress anybody with what she drives, and Toyota fills that bill to a tee. The Fusion is a tad more engaging, but I can already tell there are more creaks/rattles in my 2006 Fusion than either 2003 Toyota, and I’m sure the interior of the 1997 Tercel will hold up much better than the Fusion.
    But what do I know? I actually also enjoy my 2004 Lancer Sportback Ralliart (good for hauling my two Corgis without the need for a big SUV/crossover…I’m not afraid to say I drive a wagon!).

    • 0 avatar
      SomeDude

      So what? I drove a beater Dodge Stratus from the 90s for many years without any problems and repairs. I know people whose Toyotas and Lexi died with less than 100k on those. My ex-boss’ ES was in and out of shop for years.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    If Toyota goes away completely, I’ll be very pleased. With all the great cars to choose from, I have no idea why these nasty little corollas and Camrys litter the roads as much as they do.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    What is funny is how many people see recalls as skewed. Often to the point of manufactures I like, they are fixing problems. Manufactures I don’t like, they have terrible quality. A press release like this only draws attention to it. Pretty dumb to put this out.


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