Yesterday Toyota issued yet another recall bringing the total over the last six months to 6.5 million vehicles. It also stopped selling eight of its most popular models while they try to figure our why a hundred or so of them have taken off like rockets and refused to stop. Unlike Audi, whose bout with unintended acceleration was caused by people who couldn't tell the gas pedal from the brake, this is clearly the result of a faulty part.
After initially blaming floor mats, Toyota is now trying to shift the focus onto the American subcontractor, CTS Corp., who manufactured the pedals to their specifications. This smokescreen is an attempt to cover up the real problem that began in 2002, when Toyota set their goal to become the world's largest auto maker.
In their drive to become bigger, Toyota's relentless focus on quality, the core tenet of their brand, fell to the wayside as they built factories in America, China, and widened their network of parts suppliers in order to meet the demands of their new vision. Clearly corners were cut, quality suffered and most unfortunately people died.
Toyota was the epitome of the automotive appliance. They were never very exciting, but they always did the job expected of them with little complaint or fanfare. So now that their quality is suspect, what's left?
Can they recover from this? Of course, but it's not going to be easy. It will take a massive effort by the corporation and their dealers, and begins by taking responsibility for the problem. Once they have fixed all the pedals, they must go back to the basics, focus on quality and try to earn back all the equity they've thrown away in the past two years.