Daniel Howes: Toyota Sucks, Detroit Rocks!

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

As Motown's chief cheerleader, The Detroit News is all about the spin. But every now and then, the paper kicks it up a notch to kick Toyota in the teeth. Columnist Daniel Howes recounts ToMoCo's '07 "challenges." For those of you who aren't regular readers of the DTN or TTAC (or any other automotive publication), Toyota stands accused of hypocrisy for perpetuating their green rep whilst selling gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs and lobbying against an increase in federal fuel economy standards (unlike…?). "Yes, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger had it right up on Mackinac Island last May: Toyota is not a division of Greenpeace — and it never was." Howes then rounds on Toyota for its Consumer Reports downgrade and product recalls, and shares an unsubstantiated anecdote. "On a separate press event to unveil the car, two Camrys were knocked out with transmission problems. In contacting Japan, they were told Toyota engineers there knew of a problem with a coupler in the transmission but failed to notify their colleagues in the States." In sum, "One of the lessons of this year's auto show is that for the first time in what seems like forever, a fair amount of Detroit's metal is reaching (if not exceeding) parity with its chief rival Toyota. That means a whole new kind of competition is about to begin and Detroit is back in the game." Fair enough?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

More by Robert Farago

Join the conversation
5 of 31 comments
  • Quasimondo Quasimondo on Jan 22, 2008

    Interesting that when there is evidence used to support the claim that GM/Ford/Chrysler is not as unreliable as people think, this evidence is casually dismissed as the pipe dream of a fanboy. I suppose this is why J.D. Powers is routinely dismissed as well, correct?

  • KixStart KixStart on Jan 22, 2008

    quasimondo, Does JDP go back more than 3 years? The last I knew, no. I'm buying cars that are 5,6 and 7 years old and holding them for a long time. Sometimes, a vehicle falls off a cliff, reliability-wise, after a few years. JDP wouldn't pick that up. Now, I looked at the link for MSN reliability and it's not at all clear how they figure out what's reliable and what's not. Most of the page involved discusses the MSN partner's primary service, which is expert technical advice on car repair. CR, on the other hand, is more transparent. It sends out surveys to owners and asks them questions. Consequently, the survey questions aren't even secret. Their method for analyzing the responses might be proprietary but they do start off with the advantage of a large number of responses. R.L.Polk might be able to provide meaningful information, as they track registrations. I'd think it interesting to know the percentage of each make/model still on the road after N years. FYI - the oldest cars in my neighborhood that are still in daily use are Toyotas and Hondas.

    • TimG TimG on Jan 30, 2017

      And the oldest in my Neighborhood are GMs.....What's your point.

  • Bunter1 Bunter1 on Jan 22, 2008

    QUASIMONDO- I have some time now. MSN gets its info from auto technical hotline servise AIS. AIS can tell them how many calls they got on a problem. They can tell them what kind of problems they see. They can't tell anything about the problems that were solved without their help. They can't tell anything about what happens at shops that do not access their service. They cannot know whether their sample is a high percentage or low percentage because they do not have a statistical baseline to compare their data. Therefore they cannot give valid reliability data. I am sure that AIS does a great job helping shops solve problems. This is not their problem. MSN simply does not have a clue on how to handle this data in a way that tells anything about the likely frequency of a problem in a given model of car vs. another. Their data base can tell you what kind of problems to look out for. It has no relevance on frequency and, therefore, reliability. All of the surveys have a baseline CR's minimum is 100 samples from owners, TD is 25 and JDP VDS is 50 (I think). Each collects by a consistent method from brand to brand. With the MSN/AIS data if one brand (say Tata) authorizes their dealers to use it and another (Skoda, lets have fun with it OK?) says "No, use only the factory reasources", the Skoda cars will show no problems and the Tata's a lot and it will meean ABSOLUTLY NOTHING about the reliabilty of the cars. BTW, I am not dissing JDP. Note that most of GM's brands rated below average in the most recent VDS. As I have noted, this correlates with what we see in CR and TD. Give it some thought? Take care, Bunter