By on January 26, 2011

Toyota “Lessons” TV Spot from electrocinema on Vimeo.

Edmunds’ has looked over its in-house shopping patter data, and has some bad news for the number one automaker in the US:

In December, 17.9 percent of car shoppers considered Toyota vehicles — 2.3 percentage points below levels seen in December 2009, before the 2.3 million-vehicle recall for potentially sticky accelerator pedals. Overall, Edmunds finds that 2010 consideration for Toyota vehicles was down about 3.8 percentage points year over year…

Evolving cross-shopping patterns on also demonstrate the diminished power of Toyota’s brand. Consumers interested in traditional competitors like Nissan and Honda considered Toyota vehicles less often in 2010. Meanwhile, Suzuki shoppers – who qualify for higher interest rates, accept longer loan terms and make lower down payments, suggesting a lower economic status — increased their Toyota shopping considerably in the last year.

In recent months, though, some specific Toyota models are elbowing back in on traditional competitors. The rate of Edmunds visitors cross-shopping the Nissan Altima with the Toyota Camry, for example, has approached levels seen before the reports of unintended acceleration captivated the media and its audience last year.

The car-shopping site’s takeaway: Toyota isn’t just struggling against negative perceptions brought on by last year’s unintended acceleration recall… it needs new products. Which means Toyota’s plan to unveil 11 new or refreshed models through 2012 is coming just in the nick of time. Still, if those products don’t actually wow consumers rather than simply skating by on Toyota’s faded reputation, Toyota’s greatest strength, the trust and loyalty it enjoys from consumers, could be slip away. And given how disappointing the refreshed Corolla seems (at first blush… testing is still needed) in comparison to its hot-and-fresh competitors from Ford, Hyundai and Chevy, there’s a real risk that this could happen. Scandals come and scandals go… but resting on laurels is what really kills in this business.

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22 Comments on “Edmunds: Toyota Consideration Down, New Products Needed...”

  • avatar

    The Camry will be 5 years old this March, the Corolla and Rav4 have gone equally long without a full model change.  While they’ve had small changes in exterior they are generationally the same vehicle as five years ago.  The Yaris was completely updated very recently but have yet to be updated in the states.  Toyota may go six years without a complete refresh to their core lineup.
    While I understand the logic of not launching major vehicles in a down economy I also have to wonder it was wise given the PR mess that has ensued.  By extending the old model an extra year or two they insured the large impact of their recall.  If they had updated their lineup last year as planned this recall media circus could have been avoided.  The recall media attention was triggered when Toyota was forced to stop sells of all their Camry’s on their lot.  A fresh lineup last year may have mitigated much of the damage the brand has taken.

  • avatar

    Toyota got to where it is/was by making durable appliances that were dull. People accepted the dullness in a tradeoff.
    Along comes Hyundai, making durable appliances that are far less dull, for significantly less money. The Elantra slams the Corolla, and the Sonata slams the Camry, hands down.
    As more and more people come to trust Hyundai, Toyota will fall further and further.

  • avatar

    Looks like Toyota is getting an influx of subprime buyers.  Honestly, that doesn’t matter much.  Every automaker gets them.
    It is an interesting assessment the magazine has there.  I am not sure I agree with it though.  It sounds like the safety recalls might have had an impact and that buyers of suzuki are now buying some Toyota’s because of increased incentives.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyotas influx of subprime buyers was in part its decision in 2010 to lower credit standards.  Correction I read their tables wrong. As of today you can buy yourself a shiny new Toyota, financed through Toyota with a FICO score as low as 520.  Basically if you have a pulse Toyota will sell you the car and back the paper; historically their standards have never been this low.

      The current rate sheets for “Zone 7” paper, a FICO score of 520 to 579 indicates Toyota will gladly sell you a new car, let you finance it for up to seven years, and you just have to pay 21.10% interest.

      You can look at almost any Scion dealership website, they have all the rates and terms for Toyota financing on their sites, updated daily.  The easing of credit standards to anyone with a pulse (when typically they wouldn’t even consider these buyers) is probably why cross shopping increased.  That and the trend of dealer discounting at over 9%, the worst in the industry (source TTAC). If you’re taking 9% off the sticker price of a new Corolla or tC or a stripper RAV-4, you can tell the bank the customer is putting 9% down, or even worse roll in tax/fees into the purchase and not show the loan request as being over sticker to drive it through credit approval. The customer didn’t put one penny into the transaction.

      Isn’t this what got us in trouble in the first place? <– (not directed at Toyota directly)

  • avatar

    I hope Toyota has taken this new product slumber as an opportunity to inject some serious quality.
    The only way Toyota can keep Ford and Hyundai from kicking their butts is to get back to building cars that felt expensive due to solidity and obvious quality, not shiny plastic crap on the (misaligned) dash panels.

    • 0 avatar

      My ‘granite grey’ 2007 MX5 has shiny plastic “stuff” on the dash panel, too, but it’s aligned very well!

    • 0 avatar

      Ehhh, there are very few cars these days, even in six-digit land that don’t have SOME hard plastic shiny bits somewhere in the interior.  I take complaints about shiny plastic with a grain of salt today.

      Agreed that fit and finish in Toyota quality has gone down hill.  You can see it dramatically in three extended family members that all have Camrys.  The 1997 with 185K miles on it looks like the day it came out of the showroom.  It cannot be killed, the interior even looks new, right up the driver seat. The 2003 has nicer plastics but fit and finish leaves something to be desired and at 8 years lettering is rubbed off of buttons and the seating is showing wear.  There is also paint issues with some light blistering on the outside.  The 2008 Camry in the clan is a piece of crap.  Fit and finish is horrible, material quality is outright bad.  There is no way this car will hold up like the ’97 or the ’03.  I keep telling my family member with the ’97 don’t sell it, don’t get rid of it, just keep driving it until the wheels fall off.

    • 0 avatar

      The only way Toyota can keep Ford and Hyundai from kicking their butts is to get back to building cars that felt expensive due to solidity and obvious quality
      Interesting you write this…just today I heard an ad for a Camry on the radio pitting the Toyota against a Ford Fusion and a Hyundai Sonata.  My have times changed.  Other than trucks, Japanese manufactures never ever mentioned a domestic product in a comparison ad.

  • avatar

    @Edward Niedermeyer
    You make a great point. In fact I’ve been saying this many times over on Autoblog, only to get Camry/Corolla addicts to bash me and my comments, failing to understand the point that I, much like you, was trying to make.  They did not like hearing that Toyota has grown stale when compared to the competitors, even domestic competitors.
    Toyota, to simply put, needs to re-innovate themselves with new products throughout their entire lineup 1 vehicle at a time, not just resting on their coattails thinking that they make the most superior products and people will learn, or just relying on their most loyal buyers.

  • avatar

    …didn’t toyota take on a lot of general motors’ executive deadweight over the past decade or two?..that they now seem to be going through a parallel corporate malaise mightn’t be entirely coincidental…

  • avatar

    Edmund’s is finding out what everyone also found out:

    J.D. Power and Associates suggests that an increased number of new car shoppers aren’t even considering Toyota products.

    KBB looks back at a year in the life of Toyota.

  • avatar

    Toyota, in my mind, is doing what GM did, only on a smaller scale. They’re resting on their haunches.
    There used to be a time when if you wanted a reliable, well built car, you went with a Honda or a Toyota. Even if you wanted a reliable, well built sports car, they were happy to oblige.
    Now, however, their competitors have caught up. Toyota took what were once incredibly well built machines and cheapened them up, while keeping prices high.
    People are starting to realize that you can get a Ford, Hyundai or even many Chevrolets that are just as good as the Toyota (If not, in some cases, better) and yet they cost thousands less.
    Toyota needs to go back to their old, quality-is-king ways or it’s going to kill them.

  • avatar

    Scandals come and scandals go… but resting on laurels is what really kills in this business.


  • avatar

    I agree.  Though we just bought a Suzuki last weekend and didn’t even consider anything from Toyota.  That said, we’re probably not the typical Suzuki buyers (we paid for the car outright).  We also own a Honda and a Subaru.  The Toyota products are dying on the vine.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a Suzuki car dealer out there somewhere ? Where ? I live in northern NJ and the nearest Suzuki car dealer is over 30 miles away and there are car dealers everywhere here ! Toyota when challenged will put out a better product at a lower price through it’s name brand or it’s Scion offshoot . And since their prices were getting way too high to begin with that may very well be a blessing in disguise . Especially for cheapskates like me who had a squeaky clutch pedal in my 06 Tacoma and nothing else wrong in 4.5 years . I just hope this downturn in Toyota’s fortunes lasts long enough for me to get a great deal on a trade in like I did when I traded my Matrix (bought Jan 02 – broken mirror dimming tab replaced under warranty otherwise zero problems in  66K mi.) in for my Tacoma !

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Along comes Hyundai, making durable appliances that are far less dull, for significantly less money. The Elantra slams the Corolla, and the Sonata slams the Camry, hands down.”

    Never been on Hyundai lot but if hell froze over and I did would I find one vehicle that they could call “theirs”. Seems to me if Hyundai can’t find something to reverse engineeer and copy, they can’t build it. 

    At least Toyota and Honda offered original designs when they came to the US versus a cheap copy of what someone else already thought up, designed and built.   

    • 0 avatar

      True to an extent . But I will say the current Genesis Coupe is a very cool much lower priced Toyota Supra , whose priced soared to well over 40k in the late 90s . It’s a possible future used bargain , but as with all forced induction engines I’m very leery of long term reliability . After all every car mag back in the day raved about the Diamond Star turbos from Mitsubishi until they self destructed ! I mean ‘crank walk’ – puh-leez !

  • avatar

    I have been a toyota fan for many years and still would buy their products. However I wish they would come out with new and more exciting products. Like the hybrid pickup that they have shown in the past. They are playing it too safe and not leading the automotive industry. Ford and others have started to take the lead away from them with new products with improved reliability and value. Toyota needs to start getting out in front of the crowd and bring out something the consumer really needs to want to buy.

  • avatar

    Well Toyota, since you already designed a perfect vehicle in 1985, the Toyota 4Runner that I currently drive today, and will probably drive forever, I don’t see a need to stop by your showroom to see any of your bloated, uninspired vehicles that you try to pass as competitive in the market today.

  • avatar

    Toyota needs to bring back standard no-extra-charge curb feelers.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      The thing is you can still buy curb feelers and given the short sidewalls of today’s tires and the popularity of aluminum wheels, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get a set for my next ride, even if it’s a sports car.  I hate curb rash on my wheels or tires.

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