March 15th, 2010
10:16 AM ET

What's been lost in Toyota crisis?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/15/toyoda.jpg caption="Akio Toyoda, president of Japan's auto giant Toyota Motor, delivers a speech to employees and suppliers." width=292 height=320]

Editor's note: Rik Paul is automotive editor of Consumer Reports.

Rik Paul
Special to CNN

Watching the Toyota recall crisis unfold over the past few months has been like watching a wildfire on a windy day. Just when it would appear that the flames might be contained, another powerful gust sweeps through, stirring them up and blowing them still higher.

True, Toyota has acted as its own arsonist at times. If it had attacked the floor-mat entrapment problem as aggressively in 2007 as it is doing now, then perhaps the current crisis could have been avoided. And if the company had been acting as a better switchboard operator between Europe and North America, it could have more quickly connected the sticking accelerator problems in some European cars with the fact that the same pedal assembly was used in eight U.S. models. And it might possibly have avoided the recent stop-sale on those models.

But some of the gusts have been whipped up by the news media. The software glitch in the antilock braking system of the 2010 Toyota Prius and Lexus HS 250h, which causes a momentary loss of braking capability, is serious enough that it should be fixed. But on an overall scale of recalled problems, it's relatively minor. Yet, it continues to grab headlines in this Toyota-sensitized environment.

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Filed under: Toyota
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Curt Garrison

    The Toyota issue has nothing to do with the history of the domestic auto manufacturers. Toyota has been deceptive and manipulative in dealing with their safety issues as well as their marketing methods. Unfortunately, Americans are so mesmerized by Toyota's products they have looked past Toyota's aggression – particularly their budget increases in Washington's Lobbying game(s). Just listen to all of you people turning your backs on America..... You have just about driven Toyota's slogan of "moving forward" to a point of iconic slogans in history ! When America's economy began to fail in 2008 Toyota stepped up their marketing blitzkreig well knowing they could damage the American domestic auto industry. They have YOU in the pied piper's line.... and hopefully you know what happed in that story.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
  2. Mari

    Millions of cars both foreign and domestic have been recalled throughout my lifetime. Remember the Ford Pinto? A death trap. We owned a Ford Aerostar, recalled because the engine would catch fire! We owned a Chevy whose paint peeled after 5 years! And was recalled for the brakes sticking!

    We have since owned Toyotas & Hondas and have been very pleased with them.

    We are going to buy a Toyota Tundra this month....... its a great time to buy a Toyota!

    March 15, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  3. Mike Zhu

    This whole recall has gotten out of hand due to the mood that the general public is in. The truth to the matter is that while the recall is necessary and actually carried out after the problem was determined to be structural, as with any recall in any kind of business, the people has finally gotten the chance to lash out on toyota, the biggest carmaker in a time that the American car industry is failing. In the US this has taken so much attention while in Europe and other parts of the world it was 'just' a recall of a broken product.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  4. Debbie Cervera

    I've had other non Toyota cars that have been recalled due to the varies reason in the past. I have a Lexus and I would still consider being a new Lexus! If Lexus was not an option, I would look at merecedes, BMW or Volkswagen prior to shopping for an American made car! If Ford or another American car was having a similar recall, I doubt they would be making such a big fuzz!

    March 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  5. Black_Dove

    I don't want anyone to get hurt. Period. Having said that how many people who bought American were stuck with their defective automobiles when Detroit cranked out crappy vehicles for a cheap price? When the USA was more prosperous, there was no sympathy. WYSIWYG. But Prius owners are the "smart cookies" (i.e. baby boomers, eco-saavy) among us who are possibly willing to now do suspect things to get their money back. So we pay more attention than usual.

    March 15, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  6. mark r

    I find the timing of this whole contoversy very opportune, to say the least, for a well needed shot in the arm for GM and others. Toyota has earned far more over the years than the all to gullable American buyers give. Toyota is still more reliable historically than most other brands.

    March 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  7. Matthew Modesitt

    Total confidence has been lost with current Toyota customers. It's very apparent that they would rather do what is easy than do what is right. Honesty has everything to do with this crisis and a lack of transparency and cover-ups have made it difficult for me, a current Toyota owner, to look at buying another Toyota. GM and Ford have stepped up with their new product line ups and starting to deliver what consumers want. I am starting to think I will reconsider an American car for my next purchase.

    March 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm |