Just this morning Akio Toyoda the grandson of Toyota’s founder FINALLY spoke his first words regarding the Toyota debacle that has unfolded over the past two weeks. The world’s largest carmaker took personal responsibility for the problems. He went on to say “I believe what is happening now is a very big problem. We are in a crisis”. Really?
The Japanese are not noted for their capacity to apologize. Particularly in contrast to Americans where saying you are sorry is tantamount to getting a second if not 9th chance to rebuild your reputation.
In his press conference Mr. Toyoda went on to mention that “ I came out here today because I would not want our customers to spend the weekend wondering whether their cars are safe” NEWS FLASH Mr. Toyoda – I drove past a Prius driver this morning going about 20 MPH in the right lane and he appeared petrified. It’s not as if 99.9% of Toyota drivers have a garage full of other cars to drive (wonder if Jay Leno has one? The U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood earlier this week basically told Toyota drivers to not drive their cars. But what are their alternatives?
It will not be an easy task for Toyota to market its way out of this situation. All over the news and internet are photos of horribly destroyed vehicles that accelerated to frightening speeds and crashed into trees and buildings. Those images may be indelibly etched into the minds of the car-buying American (and international) public.
Earlier this week Toyota reported that it was going to give Toyota dealers $ 7,500 to $ 75,000 to help them market vehicles as Americans have virtually halted their purchases of Toyotas. Sales were down 22% week over week last week and that percentage is sure to skyrocket when this week’s figures are released.
My family is in the market for a used vehicle for our 16 year old daughter. While I imagine there are some pretty attractive deals on used Toyotas there is zero chance that we will seriously look at one at this point in time and perhaps for a very long time. Toyota’s reaction to this series of problems was slow if not glacial. They knew about the problem, ignored the problem and now will pay for the problem for a very long time. Americans are a very forgiving people but I am not sure if they are willing to forgive and forget.
Ford had a good week last week in reporting gains in sales and profits – this was before the Toyota news came out. Ford had a better week this week. Even GM had a much better week this week. It’s not always what you do – it’s what you don’t do that can take a giant to its knees.
Would you consider buying a Toyota if the deal was almost too good to be true?