The expected but unwanted effects of the Toyota recall fiasco (can we call it that?) seem to be kicking in already, and much like the decline of former England captain John Terry the cost to Toyota could be far worse than expected and not just financial.
Cars may have thousands of component parts and no matter how much better technology has become and how superior the build process, things can and will go wrong otherwise there would be no need for warranties.
In fact most car makers at some point will issue a recall notice for a particular model and most often a driver would not necessarily even be aware that he had a problem as the work will be carried out with the regular service, but when its safety related and cars spectacularly malfunction, as seems to be the case here, and the press get hold of it the whole situation becomes something more than just a simple recall.
Drivers immediately lose confidence and everyone panics, and unfortunately when you have a brand which has been marketed for some time on the basis of its reliability the damage to that brand can be devastating.
One thing that should be remembered is that a lot of car makers use the same component manufacturers so there will certainly not be any campaign by other car brands to gain an advantage, and try to profit from Toyota’s misfortune, as most will be saying there but for the grace etc.
Having had quite a few conversations with contacts who work in car plants in this country, one in particular is employed in a role where he must monitor the quality of parts supplied by outside contractors and with the economics of car making always in mind he says he is constantly changing suppliers in order that standards are maintained. However even he admitted that sometimes things are missed and cars may go out with components which may be susceptible to breaking down, which may explain why some people swear by a certain make of car and never have any problems and others have nothing but trouble.
Toyota themselves are starting the process of clawing back their lost reputation and what is seen as a complete mismanagement of the whole business will surely mean some heads will roll. President Akio Toyoda has promised to launch a “global quality task force” to rein in the explosion of recalls that are hammering them.
Fingers will continue to point however as it has been revealed that last year Toyota quietly scrapped its high-level “Customer First” quality meetings that had been implemented in 2005 during the last flurry of recalls, because top executives felt they weren’t needed.
In a recent statement to the press Toyoda pledged to “take the lead toward improving quality around the world by establishing a global quality special task force that will conduct regional quality improvement activities.”
This sounds very familiar to former President Katsuaki Watanabe when he rolled out the Customer First program after the company was rocked by a surge of quality problems and recalls.
Many have criticised Toyota for letting all the problems fester instead of taking the bull by the horns and now, amid a first class PR disaster it remains to be seen if the customer will come first once more.
- Toyota Chief Resignation Watch: Why Toyoda Will Stay CEO (dailyfinance.com)
- Toyota chief Akio Toyoda makes public apology for mass recall (telegraph.co.uk)