"We Can't Be Arrogant and Say Everything We Do is Right."
Toyota's freshly-minted CEO breaks cover in a Detroit News (DTN) profile with a home-town friendly headline: "Criticism shadows Toyota's success." The DTN repeats the charges: environmental insensitivity (for fighting higher CAFE standards) and quality control problems (that led to the Camry's ejection from Consumer Reports' recommended list). The blows go lower. "Unusually for Toyota, its U.S. sales growth for 2007 is running behind its forecasts, and its new Tundra's slow start in a slumping pickup market is viewed as further evidence of the automaker's fallibility." Rubbish. Along with every other U.S. automaker, Toyota has revised its forecasts to account for a shrinking new car market– but it still predicts market share growth. And while the Tundra's first year sales target of 200k units looks a bit dicey (unless they REALLY blow-out the price), they've sold 162k year-to-date. More importantly, check out Lentz 'tude: "What has always made Toyota strong is this sense of kaizen," Lentz said, referring to a tenet of the Toyota Way that means continuous improvement. "We have to use whatever shortcomings or criticisms we have as a way to re-energize that kaizen within our culture, to make sure that we fix issues that we have before they become targets of our critics." Are you listening Mr. Lutz?
I'm not even sure Bob "the Putz" Lutz *can* hear. Considering how old he is, and how senile he has shown himself to be I wouldn't be surprised if his hearing is sub-par. Also a small correction: this is Toyota USA's freshly minted CEO. Watanabe remains CEO of the company as a whole. Also an important excerpt from the article: In 2005, soon after becoming CEO of Toyota, Katsuaki Watanabe ordered a quality initiative that has produced encouraging results internally, Lentz said. "Whether it's plant quality, whether it's warranty data, the numbers look very, very good." The new Highlander crossover SUV launched in the summer, the first vehicle to go through the process, "appears to be the highest quality Toyota product we've ever launched," he said. Toyota quality dropping? Toyota becoming arrogant? Where are all the Toyota critics that said these things? Please, I invite and encourage Toyota critics to find fault with the fact that Toyota is being very serious regarding it's quality problems. Some things never change I guess. It seems that some people live in a sort of alternate universe, where Toyota is in serious trouble and things are looking great for GM. Meanwhile, in *our* universe in reality, Toyota is looking better than ever and GM continues to stumble and falter.
So, you want to buy stock in an automotive company? Do you buy into the company that has leaders like Lentz? Or do you want stock in the guys who keep coming up with more BS and excuses on a daily basis? Kudoos to Mr. Lentz for his good leadership. That is the kind of statement made by champions. It would seem that Toyota is even making better managers than the 2.8.
Ahhhh, the good old days.... Today is Mid-Feb 2010...