Bloomberg is reporting that Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp. and scion of its founding family said that a slowdown in emerging markets and uncertainty over demand in both China and the Japanese home market makes 2014 “unpredictable”.
OK, so Toyoda-san didn’t so much introduce the new Camry as introduce its headlight. The good news is that the headlight looks like progress. The bad news is that most Americans were probably a bit distracted by the video’s spare production values and Mr Toyoda’s somewhat awkward demeanor (to protect you from your own hypocrisy, commentary on Toyoda-san’s accent will be moderated… unless you can post it in Japanese). Net-net though, Toyota can’t help but come across as an earnestly nerdy lot (led, as they are, by the king of the auto otaku), which fits their brand image well. And for all the talk about styling being the prime mover for consumers, and the necessity of emotion in design, if this new Camry is simply a fresher take on its earnestly nerdy predecessor, Toyota will have accomplished its mission. I’m beginning to wonder if Detroit’s intense dislike of Toyota isn’t simply because it’s the biggest Japanese competitor, but because Toyota’s leadership culture is the unassuming, unglamorous opposite of Detroit’s flamboyant tradition.
Last evening, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared he’d be seeking the maximum penalty from Toyota. That’s $16.4m, because “they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.” That’s the largest civil penalty the U.S. Department of Transportation has ever sought. According to Reuters, “previously, the largest fine was $1 million against General Motors Co for failing to promptly recall windshield wipers in 2002-2003 model vehicles.” One would think Toyota can pay that out of petty cash. But the matter has Toyota concerned. Plaintiff lawyers are rubbing their hands. (Read More…)
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. (Read More…)
No politician worthy of your vote will pass up on the chance of publicly bashing the heads of foreign corporate types with deep pockets. And so, the Senate will convene its Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation next Tuesday. They will repeat this week’s grilling until perfectly good Kobe steak is well done and reduced to dog food.
Tuesday’s cast will consist of familiar faces: Ray LaHood will again “go into the weeds” and hold Toyota’s “feet to the fire” until all cars – well, at least those of Toyota, will be “100 percent safe.”
Smooth Yoshimi Inaba, Prez. of Toyota Motor North America will bring his baritone to bear. The congress casting crew was obviously dissatisfied with Akio Toyoda playing the role of the duplicitous villain. He will not be called and can (phew…) go home to Toyota City. (Read More…)
It’s not likely that former Toyota exec Jim Press wishes he had been called down to congress instead of Jim Lentz, but he may just be trying to angle for a return his old company. Press took time out of his busy schedule of job-hunting and worrying about taxes to write an (apparently unsolicited) email to Automotive News [sub]. Judging by the portions that AN [sub] did publish, it should probably have gone straight to Toyota’s CEO… or the shredder.
Toyota doesn’t want me to speak out, but I can’t stand it anymore and somebody has to tell it like it is. Akio Toyoda is not only up for the job, but he is the only person who can save Toyota. He is very capable, and he embodies the virtues and character that built this great company. The root cause of their problems is that the company was hijacked, some years ago, by anti-family, financially oriented pirates. They didn’t have the character necessary to maintain a customer first focus. Akio does.
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda will give the following prepared statement in his testimony before the House Oversight Committee tomorrow [via WOKV].
Thank you Chairman Towns.
I am Akio Toyoda of Toyota Motor Corporation. I would first like to state that I love cars as much as anyone, and I love Toyota as much as anyone. I take the utmost pleasure in offering vehicles that our customers love, and I know that Toyota’s 200,000 team members, dealers, and suppliers across America feel the same way. However, in the past few months, our customers have started to feel uncertain about the safety of Toyota’s vehicles, and I take full responsibility for that. Today, I would like to explain to the American people, as well as our customers in the U.S. and around the world, how seriously Toyota takes the quality and safety of its vehicles. I would like to express my appreciation to Chairman Towns and Ranking Member Issa, as well as the members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, for giving me this opportunity to express my thoughts today.