February, 2011

...now browsing by month

 

BALL IN TOYOTA’S COURT FOR NEW MODEL MOMENTUM

Friday, February 11th, 2011
468x60_staticbanner
toyota-toyota-tennis-sponsorship-small-53155

Ball In Toyota's Court For New Model Momentum

Even though a federal study finds no evidence that electronic defects account for sudden acceleration in its vehicles, Toyota faces major hurdles restoring its image and market share. A host of new and revamped planned product introductions places the ball in Toyota’s court for revitalized Momentum.

“Customers are walking away with the perception that even though a Toyota is well built, they don’t see it as the next step in design, styling and innovative features,” said Alexander Edwards of Strategic Vision Inc., an automotive research and marketing consulting firm.

That’s a pretty strong customer perception statement and for the first time in years, Ford and Chevrolet brands are eating into Toyota market share and  in some cases, outselling Toyotas.

One example buyer who purchased an SUV last month rejected Toyota after test-driving several makes and models.

“I liked the people at Toyota the best, but the cars lagged a bit, both in styling and acceleration,” the buyer said. She also liked the interior of the SUV she purchased better.

Toyota’s share of the U.S. auto market fell to 15.2 percent last year from 17 percent in 2009. Continued momentum was of course hampered by the recall of millions of vehicles, the record payment of nearly $50 million in federal fines for failing to promptly inform regulators of defects in its vehicles and delaying recalls, and the endless government hearings. It was the only major automaker to log a sales decrease from 2009.

The company is responding with a flood of new products including a new Prius Wagon and new Camry and will launch a new advertising campaign this month that reminds consumers that it remains the top retail car brand in America, a Toyota Management spokesperson said, adding, “You are now going to see a relentless focus on our product.”

TOUGH ROAD FOR SUING LAWYERS, MUSIC TO TOYOTA’S EARS

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
468x60_staticbanner

The Department Of Transportation’s report exonerating Toyota of hiding electrical flaws in its throttle mechanisms will make class action suits much harder to pursue, a product-liability expert said.prius and piano

The Obama administration’s investigation into Toyota safety problems found no electronic flaws to account for reports of sudden, unintentional acceleration and other safety problems. The only known cause of the problems are mechanical defects that were fixed in previous recalls.

The Transportation Department, assisted by NASA Engineers, said its 10-month study of Toyota vehicles concluded there was no electronic cause of unintended high-speed acceleration in Toyotas. The study, which was launched at the request of Congress, responded to consumer complaints that flawed electronics could be the culprit behind Toyota’s spate of recalls.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “We feel that Toyota vehicles are safe to drive”.

Toyota said in a statement that the report should “further reinforce confidence in the safety of Toyota and Lexus vehicles” and “put to rest unsupported speculation” about the company’s electronic throttle control systems, which it said are “well-designed and well-tested to ensure that a real world, un-commanded acceleration of the vehicle cannot occur.”

Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they reviewed consumer complaints and warranty data in detail and found that many of the complaints involved cases in which the vehicle accelerated after it was stationary or at very low speeds.

NHTSA Deputy Administrator Ron Medford said that in many cases when a driver complained that the brakes were ineffective, the most likely cause was “pedal misapplication,” in which the driver stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes.