Toyota's future still uncertain

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, February 25, 2010
Adjust font size:


In the buildup to the Congress appearance, Toyoda, and his company, had come under fire for seeming indecisiveness and looking to make profit from withholding information on defects.

Toyoda had initially said he would not appear in Congress and believed that U.S. head of operations Yoshi Inaba would be a better person to speak for the company. Amid mounting pressure from U.S. lawmakers and media, however, Toyoda reversed that decision.

It also emerged that "100 million dollar memo" had been sent to lawmakers in recent days. In that, Toyota apparently stated that it would be able to save 100 million U.S. dollars by securing a 2007 recall of vehicles with faulty floor mats.

It was "one of the most embarrassing documents I have ever seen, " said Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland added, "It seems that time after time you say that there are problems that are being addressed, and over and over again they are not being addressed."

Inaba said that that document was "inconsistent with the values of Toyota."

In Japan, The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper also condemned Toyoda and his company's behavior, pointing out that its back-pedalling and hesitancy are likely to have done lasting damage. "The growing anger against Toyota can be partly attributed to the automaker's delay in responding to the rush of complaints about suspected flaws in its vehicles," it said in an editorial.

"If Toyoda could have learned any lesson from his company's failure in this respect, he should have indicated his desire to attend the hearing before the committee had to officially request his presence," it said.

The safety of the cars is now set to be investigated in Japan. And on Thursday, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said he would like to see the company take measures to improve its safety record. "I expect the company to pay full attention to safety as it concerns people's lives. It needs to maintain a policy of continuing to improve."

The prime minister added, however, that he did not think that the hearings were the end of the safety crisis for the automaker.

Questions remain

Critics agree, pointing to questions that were left unanswered in Toyoda's appearance in Congress.

Californian Republican Bill Bradley pointed out that there seemed to be problems with Toyota reporting faults in one country to other nations. He asked whether in the future Toyota would report to the United States any faults with its vehicles that were discovered outside of the U.S.

Toyoda answered that his company "would like to extend its full cooperation," leading Bradley to question whether he had received a 100 percent yes from the president.

After the hearing, Toyoda attended a meeting of Toyota employees where, holding back tears, he expressed gratitude for their loyalty.

"At the hearing, I was not alone," the president said to a sympathetic audience. "You and your colleagues across America and across the world were with me. Words cannot express my gratitude. We at Toyota are at a crossroads. We need to rethink everything about our operation."

While Toyoda may be able to count on the loyalty of his employees, in the coming months the corporate world as a whole will learn lessons about the loyalty of consumers in the face of a company crisis.

   Previous   1   2  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comments

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from