By on October 7, 2010

Nobody (except for lawyers who desperately try to keep the fire burning) talks about Toyota SUA anymore. No ghosts were found in any machines. The matter doesn’t make the news anymore, and customer complaints suddenly dropped by 80 percent. However, the witch-hunt against GM’s  Japanese nemesis, launched by GM’s owner, the U.S. government, had its effect: According to Automotive News [sub] data, Toyota’s market share in the U.S. dropped by 1.5 percent compared to September 2009. That’s a lot when you drop from 16.9 percent to 15.3 percent. Ironically, the bigger ward of the U.S. government, GM, did not pick up those sales. They lost 2.8 percent. The winners were Ford (+ 1.4 percent), and would you believe it Chrysler (+2.1 percent).

After a lot of bowing and apologizing, Toyota now goes on the counter offensive.

Toyota rallied the troops at a dealer convention in Las Vegas and handed out new marching orders. More than a thousand dealers attended.

  • Annual sales in the U.S. are supposed to reach two million units by 2013, an increase of 30 percent, The Nikkei [sub] was told by people who were at the conference.
  • Yoshi Inaba, president of the U.S. operations, showed dealers two new versions of its Prius hybrid. They will be introduced in the U.S. before the end of 2012. The new versions include a subcompact that is smaller than the current Prius hatchback and about the size of Toyota’s Yaris subcompact. The other looks like a small sport-utility vehicle and has 50 percent more interior and cargo space than the existing Prius model. A mild plug-in that will go about 13 miles on the battery before the engine kicks in, should also be available in 2012. Toyota appears to go ahead with its plans to make “Prius” a subbrand. In a separate announcement, Toyota said that cumulative global sales of the Prius hybrid went past the 2 million mark at the end of September.
  • Speaking of subbrands, Toyota told dealers that they will reviving the rather lame youth-oriented Scion brand, which will receive an injection of new product. One of them is the long-awaited production version of its FT-86 concept car, along with the already-announced Scion iQ subcompact.
  • The free two-year, 25,0000-mile scheduled maintenance program which was started as an incentive program in March, is becoming factory standard. It now applies to all future sales of Toyota and Scion models. According to Automotive News [sub], the “Toyota Care” and “Scion Service Boost” plans will offer free factory scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. 73 percent of the customers with the support service said it improved their confidence in Toyota.

And that’s exactly what Toyota needs, regained confidence. A smear campaign can be totally unfounded, but some dirt always sticks. And it takes a long time to get rid of it. Nobody knows that better than the spinmeisters in Washington.

U.S. CAR AND LIGHT-TRUCK SALES, SEPTEMBER 2010
2010 2009
Total Total Point
Make Share Share change
General Motors Co. 18.0% 20.9% -2.8%
Ford Motor Co. 16.7% 15.3% 1.4%
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. 15.3% 16.9% -1.5%
Chrysler Group 10.4% 8.3% 2.1%
American Honda Motor Co. 10.2% 10.4% -0.2%
Hyundai-Kia Automotive 8.0% 7.1% 0.9%
Nissan North America 7.7% 7.4% 0.3%
Volkswagen Group of America 2.9% 3.3% -0.4%
BMW Group 2.4% 2.6% -0.2%
Daimler AG 2.2% 2.4% -0.2%
Jaguar Land Rover N.A. 0.4% 0.4% -0.1%

Data courtesy Automotive News [sub]

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24 Comments on “Toyota Rallies Troops For Counter-Offensive...”


  • avatar
    Fusion

    I don’t actually think that 2 million goal for 2013 is all that ambitious. Assuming Toyota wants to keep a market share of 16% in the US, that goal means the overall market will be around 12.5 million cars – which is still at the very low end of estimates for 2013…
    So, basically they are stating that they want to grow with the market – get some share that they lost recently back, but won’t get back to the market share they had pre/crisis – even though the number of competitors has decreased quite a lot…
     
    I’d expect Toyota to be able to reach that sales goal – if only based on the fact that I’d expect the US market to be quite a bit higher than 12.5 million by 2013. :)

  • avatar
    JimC

    Free 2yrs/25k scheduled maintenance.  Let’s see… a few oil+filter changes and a couple tire rotations, woohoo!!!  Oops, I forgot the complicated items (inspect tires, suspension, belts, hoses, etc. etc. etc.).  Peace of mind for “appliance transportation” minded customers.  I bet a lot of dealers were already doing this.
     
    The 2/25 roadside assistance deal is all about customer peace of mind and I doubt Toyota will much notice the expense.  That makes it pretty good bang for the buck.
     
    Do you think we could start an SUA campaign to smear some other carmaker?  If I start start a facebook group and invite my friends to join then what are the chances it would go “viral?”  I wonder if I could cause mass hysteria, witchhunts, er, a media circus, er, public hearings…

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy Hagar

      “Free 2yrs/25k scheduled maintenance.  Let’s see… a few oil+filter changes and a couple tire rotations, woohoo!!!  Oops, I forgot the complicated items (inspect tires, suspension, belts, hoses, etc. etc. etc.).  Peace of mind for “appliance transportation” minded customers.”
       
      I believe MB & BMW have been doing this for a few years now;  hardly “appliance transportation” minded customers…

    • 0 avatar
      JimC

      “ MB & BMW …  hardly “appliance transportation” minded customers.”
      Good point about MB & BMW.  Different customer base, different appeal.
      Just to clarify, I meant “appliance minded” as neither good nor bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      It isn’t 2/25 for them.  I am pretty sure it is 50k for BMW.  Bigger deal when it covers a 30k service.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      BMW is more than just scheduled maintenance. They’ve replaced pads and rotors for free on my cars under the plan. Wiper blades are covered too. It’s for 4/50,000 and can be extended to 6/100k for extra cash – I think it’s around $2k depending on the model.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Hmm… I really don’t want a Scion badge on the FT-86.  Can’t I just get small “T O Y O T A” on the lower right of the grille?  I’d take the same, in the center, for my 4Runner, BTW.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Is that guy in the trunk an Indiana SWAT officer after that schlub with the grass in his car?

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    What I find infuriating about how Toyota was attacked is it really shows you no good deed goes unpunished.
     
    Toyota could have crucified GM during their bailouts with a PR offensive that would have destroyed the company for a generation, but they didn’t.  Not a disparaging word was ever uttered about the whole sordid affair by Toyota.  And what does Government Motors try to do?  Destroy Toyota over what looks like nothing but media hysteria.
     
    Toyota won’t forget this lesson.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      During the bailout discussion, Toyota actually supported GM and Chrysler getting assistance.  It was for somewhat selfish reasons (the health of shared suppliers), but that is beside the point.  The health of the industry is more important than gaining a few points in market share at the expense of the domestic industry.

      And then GM, Ford, etc offer $1000 to anyone who trades in a Toyota during pedal gate.  Tacky, tacky stuff.  Ironically, my mom traded her Ford in for a Toyota and I bought my 1st Toyota during the same period.  I’m so pleased with my 4Runner that I sold my primary car, a 2007 GTI, and use my 4Runner as my primary car now. 

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      I agree, it was very tacky on GM’s part.  It’s also a good example of why the government shouldn’t run private industries, it plays favorites and creates an uneven playing field (like the ridiculous Congressional hearings against Toyota)
       

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      If Toyota launched a PR campaign against GM, a time when jobs were hard to come by, it really could have backfired on them.  Companies don’t do well with negative campaigns.
       
      The whole GM offering a rebate is nothing new.  The industry does this all of the time.  It wasn’t only GM who was doing it.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    I think I saw that dude in one of G.W.’s motorcades a few years back. He looked totally ready to start firing. Very creepy (but effective display of force, at least).

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    However, the witch-hunt against GM’s  Japanese nemesis, launched by GM’s owner, the U.S. government, had its effect
    Prior to GM sticking it’s piggy head into the public feed through, Toyota with it’s huge cash mountain could have hastened GM’s decline to BK by putting massive incentives on their vehicles which GM could not hope to match. GM would have died a death of a million cuts. Toyota refrained from doing so on the basis of the damage it would do to the supply base and hence Toyota. They even mumbled something about raising the prices of their vehicles to give GM a ‘hand’. After this disgraceful attempt at leveling the playing field (union style) Toyota should give up all the bowing and apologizing and go for GM’s throat. Of course GM is still in decline because not enough changes have taken place to ensure GM’s future success so all Toyota have to do is bide their time and do what they have always been good at. Besides the unstoppable machine known as Hyundai is probably of greater concern to Toyota than any other competitor. It’s good to see Ford and Chrysler picking up market share just the same and no surprise at all to see GM continue it’s journey into oblivion.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    My 2 cents is that the SUA hysteria in the media knocked Toyota of its high pedestal – which may account for some of the lack of sales increase from the preceding year.  Another reason is product.  There are no “all-new” models this year that could be game changers and then there is the long march of decontenting – especially in regards to the base Yaris and Corolla.
     
    You are now free to bash GM for Toyota’s lack of sales growth.

  • avatar
    obbop

    “Free 2yrs/25k scheduled maintenance”
    The key word above is, I believe, “scheduled.”
    While performing the easily-done-by-the-rookie in the shop working for a minimalistic wage and with often sub-par skills yet still expected to detect profit-making defects to alert the customer to and the resultant use of scare tactics to prompt the vehicle’s owner to agree to repairs BUT………
    the overriding goal is to ignore, if possible, any defects or defects-in-the-making until after the warranty period has passed.
    And, “wear items” not covered by warranty (read the fine print!!!!) are always fair game!!!!
     

  • avatar
    AaronH

    American truely are too stupid to be free…The public schools and TV have turned them all into parasitic infantile psychopaths just like all socialist/fascist societies.

  • avatar
    mcs

    One big problem that Toyota is now facing is the fact that the 11 Camry only scores 3 stars in the new NHTSA crash tests. Most of their competitors seemed to have scored 4 or 5 stars, so how do they deal with that in the marketplace.

    http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2010/U.S.+Transportation+Secretary+Ray+LaHood+Rolls+Out+Upgraded+5-Star+Vehicle+Safety+Ratings+System

  • avatar
    Steven02

    It wasn’t the US gov’t that launched the witch hunt.  There were several complaints from years before, but it didn’t come into light until the Saylor incident.  Then the media ran with it.  Then the gov’t got involved.  If you want a root cause of the witch hunt, you should be looking at the dealer that was warned before hand about the car having acceleration issues.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Jacob – grow up. You may hate an American owned and domiciled company like GM but remember Toyota created this issue with defective cars and or carpet mats. They changed their tune many times. Also you seem to forget that Toyota is massively helped by the Japanese government – something called currency manipulation. Look it up before you shout about the US’s Government help of an large industrial company.

    As others have said Toyota didn`t attack GM during the bancruptcy thing because it would have backfired and Toyota needed a viable US supplier base which woul dhave imploed with GM going down in flames.

    Enjoy your state of the art Corolla (maybe that is the reason sales are low – a piece of crap compared to any other compact car).

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I assume that all of you guys who are saying that government ownership of gm resulted in direct political control of the company have good, solid sources?

    Anyone? Bueller?


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