Toyota: Sorry Seems to Be the Easiest Word

Posted by: Bruce Weinstein on February 5, 2010

Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, has apologized for his company’s debacle surrounding design flaws with various car models. Should we praise someone who does what he or she is ethically required to do?

No.

It’s true that Toyoda has taken responsibility for his company’s mistakes, which is a necessary condition of ethical leadership.

Toyoda didn’t shift the blame to others, or use the passive voice (“mistakes were made”), or simply deny that there was a problem.
These are some of the hallmarks of the failure to take apologies seriously and we've seen too much of this with other leaders.

But ultimately an apology is merely a few words strung together.
Their utterance may be a necessary, but they are not sufficient, and they hardly constitute restitution for the millions of Toyota customers who purchased their automobiles under the reasonable assumption that the accelerator pedal and brakes would work properly.

We don’t have all of the facts yet to determine what the appropriate penalty should be. But it is not too soon to rightfully expect that Toyota will do everything possible to prevent further harm to the public, to improve the design of its cars, and to demonstrate to their shareholders that people, not profits, are the company’s first concern. That’s not only the ethical thing to do; in the long run it’s best way to repair the company’s image and boost the value of its stock, which has dropped 20% in the last two weeks .

It is never too late to right a wrong.

Dr. Bruce Weinstein, The Ethics Guy, is the author of "Is It Still Cheating If I Don’t Get Caught?" (Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press, 2009).

Reader Comments

Alan Davidson

February 5, 2010 5:10 PM

Your comments don't take into account the cultural weight that such an apology has for the Japanese... Your assessment is calibrated under US measure of the words "I'm sorry" It means something a little bit different and deeper to the Japanese mindset.

Joshua Ratcliff

February 5, 2010 5:28 PM

Bruce, I agree. Ethics is not to praised, but rather expected.

In a world where technical and ethical choices are not always the same thing, it is baffling that the technically correct choice often made over the ethically correct directive. Experiences have shown that an abundance of distorted reasoning prevails that if it is technically (lawfully or generally accepted) correct then the ethical question rarely comes into contention. Why? Is the ethical standard, not the higher standard of preponderance?

Toyoda / Toyota needs to realize the situation for what it is - the continuation of a pervasive internal problem that has resulted in quality issues and less than excellent output.

Shivram

February 5, 2010 5:49 PM

I agree with you Alan, It is an embarrassing moment for Toyota leadership. I hope they act on fixing cars rapidly and understand the full picture of the problem

colinnwn

February 5, 2010 5:51 PM

Alan, I agree, and I will be surprised if Toyoda is still president next year. But no matter what the cultural implications, Bruce is correct that "I'm sorry" doesn't fix anything; it only makes us feel better.

Additionally Toyota is selling cars in the US and must expect to be judged on US standards and norms. In some ways we don't tolerate wonton or arrogant behavior from companies, and when they are called out, we don't just accept an "I'm sorry" no matter how sincere.

Gautam Bose

February 5, 2010 6:11 PM

I think Toyota is being dealt with unfairly. Yes, there clearly are a couple of issues with their cars -- and they seem to have taken ownership of the problems and committed to solve them.

On the whole, they still makes extraordinarily good cars -- and I'm going to keep on buying them.

Gautam Bose

February 5, 2010 6:11 PM

I think Toyota is being dealt with unfarily. Yes, there clearly are a couple of issues with their cars -- and they seem to have taken ownership of the problems and committed to solve them.

On the whole, they still makes extraordinarily good cars -- and I'm going to keep on buying them.

DRAO

February 5, 2010 6:16 PM

Unfortunately, Toyota which has been a leader in quality succumbed to this quality issue. "I'm Sorry" does not cut the ice for families that has lost dear ones.

On the ethics issue, unfortunately, we did not see even a sincere "sorry" from the CEOs of the financial companies that took home millions in pay packet and bonuses when they brought the US economy to its knees. Any thoughts? I am sure a lot of the readers are still going throug the economic situation that these companies put the world through? Where does "people vs profits" stand on this issue.

Daniel Tanaka

February 5, 2010 6:16 PM

I'm not sure that there exists a sense of 'ethics' (motivation based on ideas of right and wrong) in Japanese corporations as we would understand the term in the West. I would suspect there is more of a hard-driving quest for cost reduction and "just enough" quality to beat competition. Eventually we'll find out how hard CTS (and others) were hit up for cost reductions.

Paul

February 5, 2010 6:20 PM

Toyoda is a typo.

Name 10 large companies where the President had apologized for their bad products.

Then name 10 large companies that did NOT apologized.

Which list was easier?

Daniel Tanaka

February 5, 2010 6:37 PM

I would say that expecting "ethical" behavior from large Japanese corporations according to the Western definition might prove dissapointing. They lack a moral compass. They are driven by a keen competitive zeal to constantly cut costs and stay ahead of competition. Eventually we might find out how hard the brake maker, CTS (and others) were hit up for constant cost reductions.

Karl Hansen

February 5, 2010 6:41 PM

I have a Toyota. Frankly, I have owned American made cars from all of the "former" big three. They failed for a reason. If Toyota has fallen off the quality cliff, you certainly don't want to purchase anything made by GM, Ford, or Chrysler. Perhaps you should comment on what it takes to statistically rule out failures in the 1/10000 range. You did not have to do that to find out about mini-van transmissions. You just had to ask the owner how many they had replaced.

Brian Z Jones

February 5, 2010 6:46 PM

Re: Alan Davidson
The apology may mean something to the Japanese, but carries little weight here. Japan is based on honor and shame, but most of the Western world has evolved past that, to responsibility & penalty.

Re: Gautam Bose
They aren't being treated unfairly when you look at the big picture, and human nature. We always gun for those on top - that's what keeps us trying to achieve more in life. Toyota is on top, and we want to topple them, to build on their ashes.

Re: Paul
Toyoda is not a typo. That is the family name. Toyota is the company name, change some time ago. Wiki it.

=====

You'll notice Akio only apologized for the Prius. The only car that has problems, that is sold in Japan. The rest of the world is still ignored by Akio's words.

Also note: Toyota did try to place blame - subtley. They said "it is only the pedals of one supplier." That supplier, CTS, came right back and said they have been honored by Toyota for quality, and build this part to Toyota specs.

The reason Toyota felt safe in implying, but not saying the supplier is responsible, is b/c, in Japan, the supplier would have 'fallen on their sword,' to protect Toyota, regardless who's design it was.

They also used the past tense: "I am sorry for the trouble our vehicles _haved_ caused," not "trouble they ARE causing." So, this idea that they are holding to some made-up ethical guides holds no water.

-bZj

Disclaimer: I work for a Toyota subsidiary, and my boss knows Akio, personally, from their time at NUMMI.

Brian Z Jones

February 5, 2010 6:48 PM

Re: Alan Davidson
The apology may mean something to the Japanese, but carries little weight here. Japan is based on honor and shame, but most of the Western world has evolved past that, to responsibility & penalty.

Re: Gautam Bose
They aren't being treated unfairly when you look at the big picture, and human nature. We always gun for those on top - that's what keeps us trying to achieve more in life. Toyota is on top, and we want to topple them, to build on their ashes.

Re: Paul
Toyoda is not a typo. That is the family name. Toyota is the company name, change some time ago. Wiki it.

=====

You'll notice Akio only apologized for the Prius. The only car that has problems, that is sold in Japan. The rest of the world is still ignored by Akio's words.

Also note: Toyota did try to place blame - subtley. They said "it is only the pedals of one supplier." That supplier, CTS, came right back and said they have been honored by Toyota for quality, and build this part to Toyota specs.

The reason Toyota felt safe in implying, but not saying the supplier is responsible, is b/c, in Japan, the supplier would have 'fallen on their sword,' to protect Toyota, regardless who's design it was.

They also used the past tense: "I am sorry for the trouble our vehicles _haved_ caused," not "trouble they ARE causing." So, this idea that they are holding to some made-up ethical guides holds no water.

-bZj

Disclaimer: I work for a Toyota subsidiary, and my boss knows Akio, personally, from their time at NUMMI.

A Debono

February 5, 2010 7:21 PM

Why all this media attention on Toyota recalls when last October Ford made a recall (re cruise control)(to mention just one) and there was hardly any media attention from the US.

There must be a hidden agenda somewhere.

Sam

February 5, 2010 7:21 PM

The market will punish them as needed.
I cannot believe the self righteous, me-too mindset that takes hold when a company or person is down due to a non-systemic error or lapse in judgment. Do you feel good about yourself now that you have pointed out the obvious and kicked Toyota in a weak moment?

How quickly we forget that Toyota is a WORLD CLASS manufacturing company that has for years RAISED THE BAR for every manufacturing company in the world.

How quickly we forget that poor manufacturing, bad design, and bad manufacturing BANKRUPTED GM over a period of THIRTY YEARS or more. Don't talk to me about poor quality at Toyota until you reconcile your story with what has happened at GM, Chrysler, and to some extent Ford.

How quickly you forget Ford made cars that burst into flames in a minor accident.

The number of people who have been killed, injured, or at least inconvenienced by poor quality American cars will never be knowed. My mother was stranded by the side of the freeway for hours when her Chevy with 48,000 miles just died.

Daryl

February 5, 2010 7:21 PM

Brian Z Jones:
"The apology may mean something to the Japanese, but carries little weight here. Japan is based on honor and shame, but most of the Western world has evolved past that, to responsibility & penalty."

This evolution didn't seem to do anything about hypocrisy.

Besides, why are some people here making this into a racial or anger thing, anyways? Toyota is just another company.

Meg

February 5, 2010 7:32 PM

Very well said, Brian!

lsbloom

February 5, 2010 7:33 PM

How about the 2 billion dollars they are spending on the problem? Is that punishment enough? The indignation is short-sighted Ford has recalled over 10 million vehicles over the last 10 for a problem with their cruise control mechanism with causes even turned off cars to catch fire. Fire. This is not some ambiguous potential driver error. Where's the anger for that? If you want to get upset about car manufacturers not being "safe" look around, cars are complex mechines driven by falliable individuals. Deal with it instead of demonizing individual auto makers without looking past the latest headline. "Journalists" today have the shortest memories and the most narrow focus. Dig deeper than someone else's headline.

jack

February 5, 2010 7:37 PM

Toyota is no better than GM or Ford in quality. Ive been saying it for years. i had a 06 4 runner that would acclerate on its own. it was not the mat or pedal. its the electronic speed control. it has a delay in it and is not real time and has a mind of its own as well. its horrible. they should recall everything they have ever built with the ESC. in the perfect world of perfect toyota there was no problem. i got rid of it and bought another GM less than a year later...amazing how the lowly GM can make a ESC better thatn the great toyota. i cant say i'll never buy a toyota again but i'll never go into thinking they are better than a GM or Ford product. ever.
i guess this article doesn address the FJ cruiser problems with the robots putting the tires on were calibrated wrong and causing accidents a couple years ago?? nor does it address the FATALITIES associated with poor suspension compnents that are on the tacoma, 4 runner, tundra, highlander, rav4... hmmmm where is that toyota? in the last 2-3 years TOYOTA has RECALLED more cars that GM, FORD and others COMBINED.. and toyota is suppsed to be better... yeah right.

Laura

February 5, 2010 7:39 PM

Toyota knew this was an issue back in September of last year and issued their initial recall of 3.8 million cars after a family of four was killed when their car accelerated out of control in a California accident. A couple of weeks prior to that, dealers were ordered to check the floor mats of all Toyota vehicles because it was believed that their "ill fit" was to blame for a deadly August accident where the same acceleration problem was the cause. According to an article on CNET, the National Highway Trafic Safety Administration and Toyota were both aware of this acceleration problem and had received nearly 400 complaints in that regard. Now, Toyota is recalling vehicles from as far back as 2005. If they need to recall over 5 years worth of vehicles, doesn't it stand to argue that they were aware that there could be a problem before now? Did these 2005 vehicles all of a sudden decide to start having the same problem so they wouldn't feel left out? I find it very difficult to believe that Toyota shouldn't have acted sooner on this one.

I agree that it is an ethical decision to take responsibility, but how ethical is it that Toyota delayed that responsibility until now?

john

February 5, 2010 7:54 PM

TO ALL TOYOTA LOVERS: i'll kick toyota down every chance i get. they spare no expense in controlling the american press into brainwashing the public into thinking they are superior, they are not. GO waller in their dilusional, self proclaimed superiority then.

If any japanese co is superior and respectful, id have to give that to Honda. NEVER had trouble with honda - from motorbikes. lawnmowers to atvs to cars...

GM & FORD have just as good if not better quality that toyota. Ive lived it. Ive owned them. owned japanese, german, american cars and the ones i have now are fords, chevys and BMW. I would buy another ford or GM in a second. Then Honda, mercedes or BMW.

I would remotely consider a Tacoma, but not b.c of quality - b.c of looks. You cant sell me on "TOYOTA QUALITY" b/c it is hyped B/S. TOYOTA, HAS HAD MORE RECALLS, manufacturing defects resulting in fatalities or serious problems in the past several years than GM, FORD, and others COMBINED. IS THAT QUALITY? no its crap.

taco

February 5, 2010 8:03 PM

toyota has been systematically following this denial strategy since at least 1990. Issuing silent advisories to dealers regarding design problems that they should repair freely but keep quiet about so as not to promote an avalanche of similer complaints. I was told this by several ex-sales people from different dealerships.

Capt Aclow

February 5, 2010 8:06 PM

Toyota apologized... AND they're spending $900,000,000 to repair the problems on cars... what else is a company supposed to do?

If I crashed your car, apologized, and paid for it to be fixed, you wouldn't *just* say I apologized, I paid to fix the car as well ! Am I missing something?

jack

February 5, 2010 8:17 PM

A few years ago TOYOTA management was INDICTED in Japan for covering up manufacturing defects... how did that not make it in our news?

ANSWER: Toyota owns controlling interest in our Media, thats why.

Toyota is not an ehtical company. THey sent memos to their suppliers that if the suppliers supplied HYUNDAI, they would see to it that the suppliers went out of business. How's that for ethical? threatening suppliers' (and their employees') welfare if they supplied a competitor? hey i say COMPETE! if someone buys another car that i didnt make- i would want to know why and try and do better.. THAT is FAIR and ETHICAL, not CUT THROAT behind the scenes bull... Poeple need to wake up and see the real toyota.

FORD used to make the glass and certain other components for all cars in the world. They never issued such a memo. Nor, back in the day, did dodge issue such a memo when they made transmissions for ford... Ther was cooperation..for profit and competition but no memos went out with such intimidating threats to suppliers.

Toyota is a cut throat, brainwashing liar.

They dont tell you either that it was FORD that they went to to design their Tundra in the late 90's -2000. They wanted to call it a T-150. Ford said no. Yes ford was paid around 4billion to design a competitors truck for them... Why not? Its up to toyota to put it together and sell it. It was also GM who owned 20% of toyota that helped with development of some of their vehichles and gave them some advice for the amaerican market. Did toyota repay them? no. tOyota is not ehtical. they are jackasses.

Jeff D

February 5, 2010 8:19 PM

I think Akio Toyoda is new Toyota leader but now he has to apologize for guys before him. But I like what Brian wrote.

Daniel Tanaka

February 5, 2010 8:55 PM

Public apologies by the 'top guy' for such situations are expected in Japan, as the lack of one would bring public outrage, but such events are no doubt viewed as ineffective PR ploys in the U.S. "Counting" recalls is no use these days since Pres. Clinton signed into law the "Tread Act" in 2000 following the Firestone tire recall disaster. This requires tire and automakers to report a lot of "proprietary" data to the DOT/NHTSA every quarter regarding quality issues.
Anyone can view this data at: http://www.safercar.gov/
type in: TOYOTA
after the 'Manufacturer' line.
You will note a lot of entries for "Service Brake", and "Speed Control" issues between 2003 and 2009.
Was NHTSA sleeping at the switch? The purpose of this database was for NHTSA to analyze manuacturer's submitted data and watch for any "early warning" signs of defects!

Bill Thrill

February 6, 2010 12:34 AM

You people crack me up.

The President of Toyota does what no President of any American company is capable of doing: admitting they had a problem. Instead, we get Gov't bailouts, Government Motors, and horrible service (especially compared to Japanese companies). Your response? Piss, moan, piss, moan.

Go drive a GM, or some other big-three POS. I'll keep buying Toyota, especially since they're able to do something American car companies can't seem to do: give me a good value and high quality for my ever more worthless dollar.

David Hutchinson

February 6, 2010 9:58 AM

Toyota is being extremely gracious and we owe them a debt for not insisting it's an AMERICAN sourced part giving them the trouble. Don't blame government agencies and lets not get xenophobic about Asians. Asians are keeping America afloat and they are using principles we taught them with the Marshall Plan after WW2. Those we defeat in war seem to have a way of over towering us. It's still time for us to learn from them. We are the ones making subpar products the world does not want. Or maybe it's time to evolve this Capitalist Pissing Match we're in and really help the citizens of this country.

David Hutchinson

February 6, 2010 10:02 AM

Toyota is being extremely gracious and we owe them a debt for not insisting it's an AMERICAN sourced part giving them the trouble. Don't blame government agencies and lets not get xenophobic about Asians. Asians are keeping America afloat and they are using principles we taught them with the Marshall Plan after WW2. Those we defeat in war seem to have a way of over towering us. It's still time for us to learn from them. We are the ones making subpar products the world does not want. Or maybe it's time to evolve this Capitalist Pissing Match we're in and really help the citizens of this country. David Hutchinson ruffyy@gmail.com

Rachel S.

February 6, 2010 1:01 PM

Capt Aclow, I'm with you.

Should companies pay the price for major (I mean, really major) mistakes? Yes. Should consumers respond accordingly and should they work tirelessly to fix said mistake? Absolutely.

But at what point do we move on?

In the post, Bruce notes that Toyota needs to take this failure as an opportunity to "improve the design of its cars." Indeed no one wants to be behind the wheels of a mistake, but in the end, perhaps we'll see an innovative response that will render a better product in the end.

Let's keep it positive -- failure can lead to innovation and my fingers are crossed that we'll see improvements as a result of this difficulty. Who knows… maybe the folks in Michigan will lean a little something from Toyota’s experience.

mimi

February 6, 2010 6:14 PM

Didn't our teachers in school teach us we all learn from mistakes?

Maybe, Toyota's crisis management mistake was they didn't follow rules in US.
First, hired best PR company to make junk mass medias shut up.
Second, blame others.
Third, never say sorry to bring better case for future law sues.

Toyota will take good care of their customers.
They took their responsibilities to fix all defected cars in the WORLD and furthermore, they has been setting up special quality control divisions and CEO will involve directly.

What else they can do from now?
Producing high quality cars!
We all are judges for future Toyota!
I believe smart consumers will keep on loving Toyota cars for years.

German

February 6, 2010 6:44 PM

Toyota's ethics
I own three camrys and had the "engine check light on" on all the cars at different times, but I had to pay to replace the oxigen sensor in spite that I brougt the law suit to the repairman.
Answer: It is too late. That expired months ago.

German

February 6, 2010 6:44 PM

Toyota's ethics
I own three camrys and had the "engine check light on" on all the cars at different times, but I had to pay to replace the oxigen sensor in spite that I brougt the law suit to the repairman.
Answer: It is too late. That expired months ago.

German

February 6, 2010 6:44 PM

Toyota's ethics
I own three camrys and had the "engine check light on" on all the cars at different times, but I had to pay to replace the oxigen sensor in spite that I brougt the law suit to the repairman.
Answer: It is too late. That expired months ago.

German

February 6, 2010 6:44 PM

Toyota's ethics
I own three camrys and had the "engine check light on" on all the cars at different times, but I had to pay to replace the oxigen sensor in spite that I brougt the law suit to the repairman.
Answer: It is too late. That expired months ago.

German

February 6, 2010 6:44 PM

Toyota's ethics
I own three camrys and had the "engine check light on" on all the cars at different times, but I had to pay to replace the oxigen sensor in spite that I brougt the law suit to the repairman.
Answer: It is too late. That expired months ago.

German

February 6, 2010 6:44 PM

Toyota's ethics
I own three camrys and had the "engine check light on" on all the cars at different times, but I had to pay to replace the oxigen sensor in spite that I brougt the law suit to the repairman.
Answer: It is too late. That expired months ago.

German

February 6, 2010 6:44 PM

Toyota's ethics
I own three camrys and had the "engine check light on" on all the cars at different times, but I had to pay to replace the oxigen sensor in spite that I brougt the law suit to the repairman.
Answer: It is too late. That expired months ago.

German

February 6, 2010 6:44 PM

Toyota's ethics
I own three camrys and had the "engine check light on" on all the cars at different times, but I had to pay to replace the oxigen sensor in spite that I brougt the law suit to the repairman.
Answer: It is too late. That expired months ago.

Nagesh Belludi

February 6, 2010 6:56 PM

A public apology from a Toyota executive *is* noteworthy. Especially so, given that failure is disgraceful in the Japanese culture.

It is rather premature to speak of Toyota's ethics. The frenzy over the problems with Toyota's products is rooted in the fact that Toyota has fallen off the pedestal at the temple of quality. For now, the management appears to have treaded the right path in managing this crisis: acknowledgment, regret, and immediate resolution. One needs no more than a basic knowledge of Toyota's culture and its passion with quality to foretell that Toyota's reputation will recover over the medium term.

Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D.

February 6, 2010 8:13 PM

Thank you for the thoughtful responses to my post!

Robert Laughing

February 6, 2010 8:27 PM

"Sorry" has too many 'r's - very difficult and denotes loss of face. Easier to stonewall, as MANY saw this coming for 3-4 years. Success, is NEVER questioned, no matter the cost.

Darren

February 6, 2010 8:56 PM

I am really tired of people saying it was AMERICAN suppliers who built the defective pedal. The supplier has design specifications they must build to given by Toyota. I guess it must be the AMERICAN suppliers supplying the parts for the European and Asian recalls also??? Oh, didn't you hear, they have recalls on this issue all over the world, now including Lexus. Plus, did AMERICAN suppliers build the brakes for all the Prius's being recalled world wide? (an issue Toyota has known about for 2 yrs now). Toyota has swept a lot of issues under the rug over the last 20 yrs. There were issues with 5-6 yr old Tacoma's rusting through the floorboars allowing exhaust into the interior....heard about it once and there was no major recall. People had to deal with it themselves because the vehicles were off warranty. This metal plate being shipped to dealers to fix this current acceleration problem is not a fix. I know two people who's Toyota accelerated without the owners pushing the pedal at all. So it isn't that the pedal is getting stuck when pushed to the floor. This is a quick fix that won't prove to work. Even the US agencies are saying it is the electronics. Plus, Toyota has known about this for so long and covered it up. So I don't feel a bit sorry for them. It's nice to see them brought down a few notches. More recalled vehicles in the last 5 yrs than all domestics combined. Yeah, that's quality. The 2 auto makers with the largest drop in initial quality in the last 4 yrs.....Toyota and Honda. That's right. Toyota and Honda.... Keep sticking your heads in the sand and living in the past people. I hope you choke on it.

Bryant Bercasio

February 7, 2010 1:57 AM

In life you learn from your failures, by realizing the initial problem and fixing it. Toyoda on the other hand, did take a little longer to respond to the crisis, disappointing to a certain degree, but now it has become a wake up call to get their asses back in gear...just like that devil child that allowed New Orleans people and surrounding areas to marinate in the world's finest water for weeks on end without a clue in resolving the problem, they have known for years. What about the economic breakdown in our good ol' US of A? That was lead by great mismanagment, over paid piss poor white collars in every business sector. This includes GM, Ford, & and the lifeless Chrysler brand. Toyota does continue to set the bar in everyway possible(including recalls). But since the good ol' US of A government is now expressing concern about all other automakers, let's not get too far with Toyota at this point, till the US hearings coming up with Toyota and the outcome/results of the millions of recalls. Toyota has set the bar once again in opening up a can of worms for the other automakers...who too are hiding in the shadows of Toyota, probably fixing or making aware of their own internal problems of the unexpected. While Toyota facing that public limelight of the "Auto-Cult". So to each their own, you like GMs' and they like Toyotas', no different than u choosing Nikes over Adidas, not mattering what business practice they hold behind close doors. The real truth about life as a whole, a bad habit that goes unoticed..."we really don't care till it happens to us"...that my friends is what u call "Nature of the Beast"...learn to live with it in a "not so perfect world", and carry on!...;-)

All the best people in 2K10 & beyond!
Bryant B.
Ps. Oh by the way, to further respond to all your comments above...Living in a perfect world, would not be a normal process of life...trying to be perfect still has your Good & Bad. Think about it kids!

New FIAT

February 7, 2010 8:52 AM

A new Japanese automaker has been revealed: FIAT Fix It Again Toyota!

gordy

February 7, 2010 8:33 PM

i have a 1983 toyota hilux four wheeldrive sr5 pickup with 629000 miles troublefree ownership for 27 years.i think this is real good service for 6700.00 dollers ipaid in 1982. my two 1985 s are true servivers also bring back this kind of real quality & let toyota -toyoda move forward,toyota has always fixed problems . eg head gaskets on the 3vze six.draglink recall on 1985-1995 trucks. & frame recall to repay you market value + one have for your affected truck.im sure toyota will try to make it right... go back to a cable & return spring on the accelerator..toyoda-toyota .studied the 1955 chevy.for car desige & 1950 dodge powerwagon.for truck desige..go go..hilux..

gordy

February 7, 2010 8:33 PM

i have a 1983 toyota hilux four wheeldrive sr5 pickup with 629000 miles troublefree ownership for 27 years.i think this is real good service for 6700.00 dollers ipaid in 1982. my two 1985 s are true servivers also bring back this kind of real quality & let toyota -toyoda move forward,toyota has always fixed problems . eg head gaskets on the 3vze six.draglink recall on 1985-1995 trucks. & frame recall to repay you market value + one have for your affected truck.im sure toyota will try to make it right... go back to a cable & return spring on the accelerator..toyoda-toyota .studied the 1955 chevy.for car desige & 1950 dodge powerwagon.for truck desige..go go..hilux..

Dr.Car

February 8, 2010 12:42 PM

I just found this very interesting article on how things might turn out with the Feds' investigation, not sure what to think, most automakers have historically had deep roots in the various levels of the political system, but hopefully politicians will be wise enough to choose safety over politics (remember the Chevette and Nader?)... "THE INFLUENCE GAME: Toyota's powerful DC friends" http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_toyota_s_friends By the way I have nothing against Toyota or Honda, they usually do great cars, inspired Hyundai, Ford, and GM now to improve their products, its just that the lean/flexible production system tends maybe to shave too much nowadays, and put too much pressure on suppliers and employees.

David M.

February 8, 2010 7:30 PM

American car manufacturers made a complete U-turn several years ago and they are now caught up with Toyota quality. Yet, Toyota design and apparently product engineering have become stagnant. I buy Amnerican cars because of their design practicality, affordability and, yes, reliability.

Is it fair of the media to pick on Toyota? Probably not; but, that did not deter the media from constantly picking on GM and Ford a few years ago.

Duchess

February 9, 2010 3:44 AM

I currently own a Toyota and will continue to buy Toyota's in the future.
We will continue to make mistakes in a fallen world. No auto industry is perfect. And as soon as we place ourselves on a pestital, we will find out quickly we are going to sink. Good example the Titanic. chow

Bruce Temkin

February 11, 2010 3:30 PM

I just put up a post called "5 Ingredients For Saving Toyota's Brand" on my blog, Customer Experience Matters. http://experiencematters.wordpress.com

Peter Jones, London

February 17, 2010 3:10 AM

In the 21st Century, we need business leaders to lead by example on business ethics.

A customer complaint that is managed is one where the customer has renewed, even enhanced respect, for the reputation of the supplier, however awful the loss. Better the loss is recognised, and some recompense attempted, than years are spent in hostile, expensive and traumatic denial and conflict.

Like everyone, we are all human, we all make mistakes, we just pray it doesn't lead to loss of life as a result of our work.

Clearly where loss of life is concerned due to mechanical or design failure, there had better be the appropriate E&O insurance in place to provide some small recompense and solace to loved ones.

Even better from a business practice perspective is the prevention of loss of life through speedy and honest leadership action.

For all these reasons, and being brave enough to be completely honest, Toyota is to be praised.

The lack of comment on recalls from other US motor manufacturers only shows how little we public believe big business will actually act in our favour. We need to support and bolster the movement towards global business ethics as a way for businesses to build real trust in the customers they serve.

In the US's favour is it's absolute focus on customer service. This activity will always make exponents a leader in world trade terms, but leaders also have to bring on proteges, and help them understand why certain business practice works, and alternatives don't.

Patience and tolerance are needed in good measure, here, but what is important for us all is that we are seen to try to do the right thing, however difficult that might be.

Peter Jones
www.londoncms.com

Jamie Flinchbaugh

February 17, 2010 9:46 PM

I have been resisting writing about the Toyota case because so little is actually know about the defect itself, and cause and effect isn't clear. But I have been getting enough questions about it. I don't think this changes anything about Toyota's success. They still have dramatically fewer recalls than others. And of course no one that knows lean would say they were anything close to perfect.

I did write up some of my thoughts and lessons in observing the story on my blog here: http://jamieflinchbaugh.com/2010/02/the-fall-of-the-mighty-toyota/

James B

February 19, 2010 9:25 PM

Toyotas will still be the best car in my opinion. I've had 3 Toyotas ever since I've been driving and all have not broken down.

It does seem a bit too easy on Toyota's part by saying 'sorry' and moving on but hey if they're listening to the consumers they'll fix the problem and make sure it won't happen again.

I don't think they'd want to tarnish their 'tough as nails' reputation.

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Mike S

March 10, 2010 12:36 AM

Toyota is still a superb car maker, and they will become better through this experience. I still have a question through......Was it the Ford Explorer, or Firestone's fault? That one got kinda swept under the rug, I guess the unions bullied the media with that one.

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I currently own a Toyota and will continue to buy Toyota's in the future.

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How can you manage smarter? Bloomberg Businessweek contributors synthesize insights from the brightest business thinkers, critique the latest management trends, and comment on leaders in the news.

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