Toyota: So Over The Whole Car Thing
At the end of an excellent comment on the recent 1989 Camaro RS Curbside Classic, commenter carnick noted:
I remember reading an article at the time which interviewed both Roger Smith, and Toyoda-san, the head of Toyota at the time. Each was asked, ‘is your company in business to make cars, or to make money’? Smith answered, ‘of course, we are in business to make money’. Toyoda answered, ‘we are in business to make cars, and by making the best cars in the world, we will make money’. While Toyota has had its problems lately (they caught some GM virus), I think the general path both of those companies have taken over the past 30 years shows which strategy works best.
This is fantastic encapsulation of the different directions GM and Toyota have been heading over the past several decades, but it’s also a warning sign for Toyota. The company that rose to the top of the global auto industry by virtue of a laser-like focus on cars themselves is facing a flood of recalls and perceptions of declining quality… and it’s just come out with a PR website called “ Toyota Beyond Cars.” Coincidence?
Obviously it’s impossible to draw a causal link between declining quality and vacuous public relations initiatives. After all, if Toyota thinks that inviting the public to share “ideas about how you see beyond today to a better tomorrow,” somehow improves the public’s perception of the brand, so be it. In practice “Beyond Cars” is a harmless PR site, featuring plenty of carefully-staged photography and such shared wisdom as this bon mot from “Melissa H”:
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