Unspun‘s alter ego told Reuters last Wednesday about Toyota’s handling of the recall that:
“People want to see a company take full responsibility, be empathic to the victims and their families and be in control by outlining the problem and how they intend to solve it. They also expect the CEO doing all this,” said Ong Hock Chuan, a technical adviser of Jakarta-based PR consultancy Maverick who specialises in crisis management.
“Toyota seems to have failed on all counts.”
Now, a week after, Toyota’s had to recall its best-selling Prius but watch the way Toyota chief honcho Akio Toyoda makes the statement. Still not taking full responsibility, still not empathic and not quite outlining a clear plan to solve the problems besetting the company.
If Unspun was a gambling man, he’d say that Toyota is in for more trouble because its President cannot bring himself to satisfy the basic expectations of people in a crisis-like situation. He’d also bet that Toyota is in denial and not listening to their PR advisers or that their PR advisers suck big time.
Let’s see how Toyota will fare over the next week or two.
Toyota recalls 437,000 Priuses, hybrids globally
Associated Press , Tokyo | Tue, 02/09/2010 9:46 PM | Business
Toyota says it is recalling about 437,000 Prius and other hybrid vehicles worldwide to fix brake problems – the latest in a string of embarrassing safety lapses at the world’s largest automaker.
“I don’t see Toyota as an infallible company that never makes mistakes,” President Akio Toyoda said at a news conference Tuesday. “We will face up to the facts and correct the problem, putting customers’ safety and convenience first.”
With the Prius announcement, the number of vehicles recalled globally by Toyota Motor Corp. has ballooned to 8.5 million, including for floor mats which can trap gas pedals and faulty gas pedals that are slow to return to the idle position. The 2010 Prius wasn’t part of the earlier recalls.
There have been about 200 complaints in Japan and the US about a delay when the brakes in the Prius were pressed in cold conditions and on some bumpy roads. The delay doesn’t indicate a brake failure. The company says the problem can be fixed in 40 minutes with new software that oversees the controls of the antilock brakes.
“Let me assure everyone that we will redouble our commitment to quality as the lifeline of our company,” Toyoda said.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement Tuesday that Toyota’s leaders have assured him they are taking safety concerns “very seriously.” The statement said LaHood’s agency will stay in constant communication with Toyota to hold the company to its promise.
Also, State Farm, the largest auto insurer in the US, said it alerted federal regulators late in 2007 about a rise in reports of unexpected acceleration in Toyota vehicles. Congressional investigators are looking into whether the government missed warning signs.
Toyota officials went to Japan’s Transport Ministry earlier Tuesday to formally notify officials the company is recalling the 2010 Prius gas-electric hybrid – the world’s top-selling hybrid car. The automaker is also recalling two other hybrid models in Japan, the Lexus HS250h sedan, sold in the US and Japan, and the Sai, which is sold only in Japan.
The 223,000 cars being recalled in Japan include nearly 200,000 Priuses sold from April last year through Monday, according to papers the automaker filed with the ministry. The Prius is Japan’s top-selling car.
In the US, Toyota will recall 133,000 Prius cars and 14,500 Lexus HS250h vehicles. Nearly 53,000 Priuses are also being recalled in Europe. Toyota is suspending production of the Sai and Lexus HS250h in Japan until the updated software for those models is ready.