Toyota Faces its Accusers
POSTED: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - 11:47pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 8, 2010 - 4:25am
The massive Toyota recall and congressional hearings into safety problems, have dealt a body blow to the world’s largest automaker.
So how bad is it, and can they turn this disaster around?
There have been massive recalls in the past, and whenever they happen, we in the press wonder, can the company survive?
Well, they can, even when it happens twice. Just ask Ford…
34 deaths have been attributed to problems with various Toyota vehicles.
And it seems apparent from internal documents that the omnipresent Toyota confidence we auto writers have often discussed has turned to arrogance, as they fended off a deeper investigation into problems with their cars.
“Have you tested the effects of electro-magnetic pulse on the operation of the braking system…yes or no,” Asked Senator John Dingle at the hearings yesterday.
“We have not tested it yet, but it is to be tested,” replied Toyota America President Jim Lentz.
“So you have not tested it,” Dingle shot back.
“Not yet, but it is to be tested,” was the reply.
But, even a public relations tsunami like this is survivable. Can you say Pinto and Explorer?
27 people died in fires due to the bad design of the Ford Pinto gas tank, and yet, in 1974, the administration didn’t see fit to institute a recall. So Ford did it themselves…14-million of them.
But again, internal documents had been damning, weighing costs of a design change versus the cost of lawsuits. And then came the the rolling Explorer…
And now, Ford is trumpeted as a real comeback story.
Today, the grandson of Toyota’s founder spoke to the house oversight committee.
"I will do everything in my power to insure that such a tragedy never happens again," said Akio Toyoda.
The former head of Toyota America, Jim Press said today that the customer-oriented Toyota that was… became an expanding money machine bent on profit and growth alone.
Press says that Akio Toyoda is the one person who can bring that old company back. After all, his name is on the grill.