As has been correctly pointed out again recently in AutoNews, the newly installed President Toyoda of Toyota Motors, Japan, did some months ago admonish the auto giant’s “hubris.” Was that a foretelling of the difficult events to come, knowingly or not?
With their problems spreading [& now multiplying], it appears for Toyota that the questions soon will become, ‘What did they know…and when did they know it?’, which beckons, of course, straight from a series of events in American politics.
As I alluded to recently in other Online venues, even exec’s going back to Jim Press’s days are likely now to be scrutinized. What a mess, for a firm that has done great work in so many ways for decades.
If Toyota’s “DNA”, going back to its roots, is to hold here & revive itself, no less than a literal shaking of the company to its core is likely going to have to occur in order to achieve it. That’s the easy part, my calling that out. The hard part: WILL it happen? Maybe no one, not even the leaders of Toyota itself, know yet that answer. But that IS what it will take.
For, unlike Ford with its fabled troubles with the Pinto, the events here are far more exposed and the media only adds more exposure on top of that. [And even for Ford, that was one isolated model, and only in an accident caused by others did its real troubles surface. Not so here.]
And it will need to have that shaking-to-the-core soon; and have it happen in real time almost, just as this crisis, when it broke, did so nearly in ‘real time’…to the firm that made famous the process of ‘Just in Time.’ Not so was it with their fix THIS time, I’m afraid.
Toyota has built such huge surpluses of goodwill in the US over decades, that the hit they are taking can still be temporary. But just as happened with the US brands, the American public could turn on them very quickly, if they get one whiff of anything that gets worse.
So, if Toyota takes the right tone, comes clean, fixes this stuff, and goes back quietly to being what they were [their ‘DNA’ from above], they could come out on the other side of this as strong, or stronger than before. We’ll see if that happens.
Needless to say, there is a Branding, and Sales, lesson to be learned from this, which has yet to play itself out.
I have a long association with Toyota on their marketing side, and as an owner in our family, and so I do not relish this for them, nor do I like writing about it. My best wishes to them in this effort.