Toyota aims for damage limitation as sales bring better news in UK
SHOWROOM tax and Toyota’s reputation are in the news this week.
The Big T first. The havoc caused to its gold star reputation by complaints of unintended acceleration and deficient brakes and loose floormats continues. Toyota is facing lawsuits in the USA for incidents, including fatalities, allegedly linked to defects on some Toyota and Lexus models. The fall-out in Europe is far less severe but the company’s PR machine has gone into top gear to limit the damage to its image and to get the problems fixed.
Here’s a selection from the last week or so: Its investigations in the USA have “cast doubt on a driver’s out-of-control Prius claim”. Its UK recall campaign has reached two-thirds completion in six weeks; fulltime working has resumed at the Burnaston Auris and Avensis factory; UK sales were up more than 15 per cent in February and holding good in March.
In Japan, its Special Committee for Global Quality (SCGQ) met for the first time. The committee members include the newly appointed chief quality officers for North America; Europe; China; Asia and Oceania, and the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Their brief: to represent concerns of customers. They will investigate the causes of quality problems, including those that necessitate recalls, and re-examine the factors that affect quality in every phase of design work, manufacturing, marketing and service.
Addressing allegations that the company covered up mechanical problems for too long, Toyota will have thirdparty experts from each region evaluate quality improvement on a regional basis. Toyota will appoint four third-party experts to review the quality improvement measures adopted by the SCGQ. Plans call for the initial review results to be released in June.
In Britain, it announced it was “reinforcing customer confidence in the quality and reliability of its model range with a groundbreaking new offer” of either a five-year warranty (from three years) or a free three-year service scheme. Kia already offers seven-year warranty so one wonders how this Toyota deal breaks new ground. More like it scuffs over the surface with a bit of weed killer.
Now if Toyota had offered five years and free servicing, then that would have been groundbreaking for a major car maker.
LOOKING UP: Full-time working has resumed at Toyota’s Auris and Avensis factory at Burnaston.