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Friday, April 8, 2011

Latest Toyota recall shows true colors

Moody's Investors Services' recent analysis of  Toyota puts things in post earthquake perspective for Japanese automakers:  Nissan considered for a credit upgrade, Honda viewed as stable, and the Recall King placed under review for another drop in credit rating.  "The rating agency also said that the company's high level of incentive spending and its declining share in major markets like the U.S. indicated that consumer perceptions of the company's quality may have weakened compared with some of its competitors." 

Speaking of consumer perceptions, Toyota's continuing lousy attitude toward cusotmers was epitomized by their latest recall.  Thanks to a whistleblower -  supported by his colleagues - media exposed several defects, including a brake problem.  Then the Recall King acknowledged the defects but refused to issue a recall until an outraged public changed Toyota's mind.

Amidst Toyota's handwringing public apologies and promises to put more emphasis on customer satisfaction, here's yet another example of actions speaking louder than words.  Evidence that Toyota has yet to learn any "big lessons," and will keep trying to get away with whatever it can, profits before people.  As one consumer wrote, "Does it mean that the safety of the Vietnamese people is not a matter of concern to Toyota Vietnam? They know (about the flaws) but they've decided to ignore everything.”  Furthermore, based on the whistleblower's allegations, Toyota has knowingly sold some 60,000 of these defective vehicles.

The whistleblowing and public protests coincide nicely with Moody's analysis of a company that obviously has a long way to go when it comes to building trust.  No surprises for me.  Its the Toyota I've come to know and expect. 

Update 4/16/2011 - The scandal has now worsened, prompting a recall of nearly 66,000 units, the largest ever in Vietnam.  This is even more than the whistleblower revealed had been sold.  And apparently the Recall King still doesn't get it.  Toyota apologized for the recall but neglected to apologize for not listening to warnings from their whistleblowin' engineer and his colleagues.

Update 4/22/2011 - Whew.  Its hard to keep up with all the Toyota recalls.  Their "latest" is now a whoppin' 330,000 units for an airbag defect.  RAV4s, Highlanders.  Oops - yesterday (4/26/2011) Toyota announed a 51,000 unit recall of Tundra trucks re a drive shaft defect.     

Update 4/27/2011 - Top Gear auto news has asked Toyota how the Vietnam recall will affect Thai-built Fortuners sold in the Phillipines, but the Recall King has yet to reply.

Update 6/19/2011 - Amidst Toyota's adamant denials of the obvious, the Recall King has now taken action against the whistleblower: http://www.thanhniennews.com/2010/Pages/20110614123057.aspx