The auto media seem to believe that Toyota’s reputation is ruined.
Consumers, though, are still under the impression that Toyota’s quality is tops when compared to all other automakers.
How can that be? More importantly: Who’s right?
Toyota had a rough 2009, to put it mildly. Now 2010 is already looking bumpy, since last week the company announced a voluntary recall of 2.3 million vehicles to correct “sticking accelerator pedals.” The recall affects the RAV4, Corolla, Matrix, Avalon, Camry, Highlander, Tundra and Sequoia. Oddly enough, that new recall has nothing to do with Toyota’s earlier recall of 4.2 million vehicles after the infamous “floor mat acceleration” fiasco. So that’s 6.6 million recalled vehicles, without even including the 110,000 Tundras recalled for rust problems.
Now, to top it all off, Japan’s own Nikkei news organization is saying, as reported by The Truth About Cars, that the latest recall,
is seen as a major dent in the side of the leading Japanese automaker’s reputation as a builder of reliable automobiles.
Ouch. The words “Toyota” and “reliability” have been nearly interchangeable for decades, and now even Nikkei seems to realize the era of reliability may be fading.
On the other side of the coin, though, and the side that really counts, consumers seem to disagree. Or at least to not have noticed yet.
According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, Toyota remains in the number 1 spot in the minds of car buyers as the brand with the best quality and value.
How can that be?
I have a feeling that consumer feelings just haven’t caught up with reality yet. If Toyota can get its act together, fix these issues, and move on, it will keep its reputation among consumers. But if recalls continue to expand, which they very well could, the only thing legendary about Toyota quality will be how quickly it faded.
What do you think: Is a Toyota still as reliable as ever, or is the company headed downhill?