For whom the Toyota alarm tolls

By Xia Wenhui
0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, February 8, 2010
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As one of world's largest carmakers, Toyota is now facing a seemingly biggest crisis in its 70-year history. Its uncontrollable acceleration has eventually led to a halt in its advance.

The company's president, Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota's founder, apologized late Friday for recalls of millions of Toyota cars worldwide, saying the company can deal with these problems.

Can do it or not, Toyota's long-term reputation has been gravely hurt and the debacle of the auto giant may well serve as a classic case study not only for the automotive industry.

The logo "Toyota" was born with the launching of the Model AA, the company's first passenger car in 1930s when it began to claim marketing efforts of "focusing on emphasizing the positive experiences of ownership and vehicle quality."

The well-known "Toyota Way" has also been regarded as remedy for all diseases. The 14-principle norm includes producing the right results by right process and driving organizational learning by "continuously solving root problems."

But it is the Toyota's way of handling its root problems that has been slammed by critics.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that Toyota's recall of millions of vehicles came unfortunately after enormous effort and pressure by the U.S. government.

And Dimitrios Biller, a former attorney for Toyota told Reuters that Toyota systematically hid evidence that would have led to costly trials..."only for the interest of saving money."

In addition, problems are also raised about electronics, which experts said would be even tougher and more costly during the massive recall.

Some critics were even suspicious about whether Toyota had been completely open about other problems.

Now with its golden reputation on quality, reliability and efficiency being questioned, Toyota is facing severe challenges. The current crisis has offered some bitter lessons not only for Toyota, but other automakers or all enterprises worldwide for that matter.

First of all, the solidest fame is the easiest to damage. Though the president of Toyoda noted the company is still safe, many consumers would hang back from the most guaranteed brand.

Secondly, quality, not profit, is the ultimate focus for enterprises. Toyota is noted for using common parts across many models. This panacea for earning is also one of the root causes for the massive recall.

Finally, the most important lesson is that any excuse is lame when it comes to human life. Toyota has repeatedly claimed that the problems were "rare," but the accumulated lawsuits and historic recall may be just the tip of the iceberg, or an alarm bell for those who are on or heading toward the Toyota way.

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