Toyota Takes Another Step Towards the GM Way

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Toyota has been remarkably upfront about its struggles with “Big Company Syndrome.” The fate of Toyota’s predecessor as the world’s largest automaker is an unavoidable example of what awaits giant manufacturers that lose their focus. And yet, as Toyota has replaced GM as the big daddy of car building, it keeps making eerily familiar mistakes. And its no surprise that Toyota’s challenges tend to center around marketing and brand management (hello, Scion). Toyota’s brand is a by-product of its obsession with manufacturing, rather than an independently developed, carefully-maintained image. The trademark Toyota brand qualities of quality and reliability are built on dedication and reputation, not the modern-day alchemy of marketing, sales strategies and brand-pushing. So why is Toyota telling Automotive News [sub] that it’s creating a wholly-owned subsidiary to coordinate global marketing and advertising? And why is Akio Toyoda going to be running the new marketing realm?

This new subsidiary “will handle advertising, sales promotion and global marketing strategy,” explain Toyota spokesfolk. “It will focus on marketing issues globally and help create a unified message.” But where’s the confusion about Toyota’s brand? At least in the US market even Toyota’s competitors agree that the Toyota name is synonymous with industry-leading. And not because you meet the nicest people when your Toyota speaks bold moves like a rock; because getting products right always came before marketing. In this sense, Toyota is almost an anti-brand.

Moreover, Toyota’s steadfast integration of development, production and marketing around each vehicle line has long been held up as one of its keys to success. Marketing information is crucial to development and design, and visa-versa; it was for this very reason that Toyota pioneered its “heavyweight project manager” model. So why create a separate marketingland now? New fiefdoms rarely improve focus, as proven by GM’s internecine fueding during its long decline. Decoupling marketing from the rest of the business feels like another step towards distraction for the world‘s (and now Canada‘s) leading automaker.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

More by Edward Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
2 of 53 comments
  • BDB BDB on Jul 29, 2009
    Can anyone think of one compelling reason to pick a Camry over a Fusion? Fusion is hecho en Mexico. Camry is hecho en America. OK, I thought it doesn't matter, free trade, by the best product, etc? That's what I hear from people a lot on here.
  • Ohsnapback Ohsnapback on Jul 29, 2009
    PennSt8 : July 29th, 2009 at 2:06 am You know, I’ve noticed a trend as of late on various blogs/forums. Most of the comments seem to harken back to the mid 90s Camry and how solid they were built. The ES of that same vintage, while not very entertaining, was so well built it put cars that cost 3 times as much to shame. The 1992-1994 Toyota Camry, especially in V6 trim, was arguably the best built sedan, with the highest quality, most serene, quiet, and silky smooth ride, ever constructed for the money. I remember driving in a friend's, who we had mercifully ragged on for "turning Japanese," for the first time, and just being in awe of the quality. It was surreal. Toyota has lost their reason for being. Based on their current quality, materials used, and the other attributes of their cars, declining reliability and durability, they are now overpriced, overhyped, purposeless vehicles when stacked up to the better field of competitors.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).
  • Lou_BC There are a few in my town. They come out on sunny days. I'd rather spend $29k on a square body Chevy
  • Lou_BC I had a 2010 Ford F150 and 2010 Toyota Sienna. The F150 went through 3 sets of brakes and Sienna 2 sets. Similar mileage and 10 year span.4 sets tires on F150. Truck needed a set of rear shocks and front axle seals. The solenoid in the T-case was replaced under warranty. I replaced a "blend door motor" on heater. Sienna needed a water pump and heater blower both on warranty. One TSB then recall on spare tire cable. Has a limp mode due to an engine sensor failure. At 11 years old I had to replace clutch pack in rear diff F150. My ZR2 diesel at 55,000 km. Needs new tires. Duratrac's worn and chewed up. Needed front end alignment (1st time ever on any truck I've owned).Rear brakes worn out. Left pads were to metal. Chevy rear brakes don't like offroad. Weird "inside out" dents in a few spots rear fenders. Typically GM can't really build an offroad truck issue. They won't warranty. Has fender-well liners. Tore off one rear shock protector. Was cheaper to order from GM warehouse through parts supplier than through Chevy dealer. Lots of squeaks and rattles. Infotainment has crashed a few times. Seat heater modual was on recall. One of those post sale retrofit.Local dealer is horrific. If my son can't service or repair it, I'll drive 120 km to the next town. 1st and last Chevy. Love the drivetrain and suspension. Fit and finish mediocre. Dealer sucks.
  • MaintenanceCosts You expect everything on Amazon and eBay to be fake, but it's a shame to see fake stuff on Summit Racing. Glad they pulled it.