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Posts Tagged ‘toyota’

Toyota: When a lack of a response is a response

Posted by Bill Sluben on February 6, 2010

Toyota’s struggles the past two weeks with real and (now perceived) quality problems have shook up the once impeccable quality record of the Japanese giant. Consider that it had been Toyota that has been the benchmark for quality in the industry the past 20-25 years. Consider that it is Toyota that has had a leadership position on the field of public perception, whether rightfully deserved or not. And consider that it is Toyota that has no clue or experience in managing a public relations bomb.

Toyota, and the Japanese, are notorious for just-in-time manufacturing and consensus management. It is the latter that is their Achilles heel with the current crisis. For it is highly unusual for a Toyota rank and file to speak up. That approach ahs established uniformity and efficiency with their manufacturing.

When the crisis first began to percolate two weeks ago, Toyota’s response was to ignore it. In hopes of it going away? In hopes that the claims were false? In hopes that a small margin of complaints was not enough to warrant a response? Who knows? When the crisis escalated, the leadership of Toyota was AWOL for nearly two weeks. The response was tepid (at best) from Toyota – “if there is a sudden acceleration, just apply firm pressure to the brake and shift the car into

neutral” OMG. Are you kidding me?

Now, Toyota is in a full blown crisis. This isn’ only about the electronic sensor to the accelerator. Now it has spread into quality defects/issues with the Prius brakes. And to their credit, Toyota has issued a moratorium on future sales and has rushed out parts to remedy the accelerator situation. The message that is rolling out of corporate is to hang in there, we’ll get you fixed up, we’re still Toyota – the best in quality. But where’s the response to how they will ensure that this will never happen again? Where is the response that restores the immense equity in the perceived quality of Toyota? That’s TBD…

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Are incentives drying up?

Posted by Bill Sluben on December 11, 2009

Consumers, long conditioned to look for the greatest incentive among vehicle manufacturers, may find that the well is starting to dry up.

Car-shopping Web site said the average automotive manufacturer incentive in the U.S. was $2,713, up 1.9% from the prior month, noting GM, Chrysler and Ford spent the most on incentives.  While GM’s November sales fell just 1.5%, the company outspent its rivals on incentives by at least $1,000 a car, subsidizing $4,300 per vehicle, says If Whitacre pulls back too much on the discounts, sales could plummet.  However, the long term strategy has been clearly communicated to focus on value and quality and not on discounting.  Discounting, with its fickle and fleeting mentality, ultimately will not build the brands.

Nissan spends about $2,000 to $2,500 per vehicle on incentives, compared with $1,500 to $1,700 at Honda and Toyota.

Chrysler also has been reducing incentive spending. Average incentives for Chrysler fell 6.8 percent, or $262 per vehicle, in November

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