Monday, February 15, 2010

Toyota Execs Hold Media Discussion At NADA After Dealer Meeting

Don Esmond, Senior Vice President Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. along with Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Division and some dealers fielded media questions about the "sticky accelerator recall". Carter emphasized that the sticky pedal was a "very rare occurance, 13, 10 in the U.S. out of 2.3 million vehicles." Carter says they are repairing the problem at a rate of 50,000 per day and now more than 500,000 have been fixed. The stop sale affected 60 percent of Toyota's unsold U.S. inventory or 112,000 units of which 88,000 have been fixed and are back on sale. Carter emphasized that dealers priority was to fix customers vehicles first. Five million reinforcement bars in 7 different sizes are available to make the repairs with many dealers open 24/7 and adding technicians to get it done.  Carter said, "the message is Toyota is open for business".

Esmond says they have to "rebuild the brand, restore confidence Step1. Step 2 is a fine balance between rebuilding the brand and getting back customers." "Did we tarnish the brand? Yes. Did we rust through? No."
Esmond went on to say, "we're a quality brand, we stumbled, I'm sorry for that - we'll recover."

In regards to the 8,000 Toyota Tacomas with a crank shaft part issue, Esmond says that Ford has 14,000 and Nissan 11,000 vehicles affected by the same issue.

Many questions come out of the Toyota sticky accelerator recall and the media's over-attention to it. There have over 10,000 recalls since the 1966 National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act went into affect so why the heavy focus on this one - because Toyota is the global sales leader? - because they claim to be the quality leader? - because it was known for some time before it was dealt with? - because the auto industry is under such scrutiny and focus after last year's bankruptcies and disastrous sales? Today's media passion for bandwagon over-blown coverage? All of the above?

More importantly is Toyota's fix to the damaged brand image which they will also try to repair quickly.