I drive a 1998 Toyota Camry. You know, from back when they were quality cars? Seriously, its a great car. Except for the sensor on the exhaust system that makes my check engine light come on, nothing but normal maintenance required.
For years (decades?) Toyota was synonymous with build quality. Safe, reliable cars. People paid more for them. Today, not so much. What a difference a few weeks and multiple very public recalls make.
I’ll admit, when I first hear about the gas pedal recall, I was not really concerned. The news asked all the local Toyota dealers if they had any incidents, and none had. In a city Orlando’s size, that’s saying something. Then the brakes for the Prius. And the shaft on the Tacoma. Now the steering on the Corolla.
After the first recall Toyota started running ads talking about their commitment to fixing the issue. Good move, or it would have been if there hadn’t been so many other recalls. Now I see the ads and wonder at their sincerity. Fix the problems and then tell me it’s fixed. It does not instill confidence for me to see an advertisement that says Toyota is fixing the safety issues on day and then to hear about more and more issues that need to be fixed.
A series of quality issues with their product has eroded the trust in the Toyota brand.
What can we learn from this?
Don’t rest on your reputation. It’s obvious now that some serious production issues have been brooding in the company. There was a time when the reputation of Toyota meant you would pay more for a used one. The last time we looked at a used Toyota van I had a conversation with the sales guy who flat out told me that they could charge more for it simply because it was a Toyota. And, had it been in our price range, we might have bought it at that price because of the brand name. Now, I would pay more for a Honda or Ford.
If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you can’t stop moving forward. And you definitely cannot let the quality slip. The name Toyota only stays synonymous with quality if the quality of the product remains high. As an outsider it seems obvious that Toyota relaxed their standards. I don’t know what happened in the company, but four major, public recalls in a matter of weeks points to some significant issues.
I have no doubt that Toyota will very soon e churning out automobiles of amazing quality again. but I don’t know how long it wil take for them to rebuild their reputation.