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Toyota Can't Be-All to Everyone

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An unwritten rule in today's global auto business is to never, ever, underestimate Toyota Motor Corp. But like weary Michiganians glad to see last year gone, the bosses of the world's most powerful automaker probably are, too.

They just don't talk about it.

Behind Friday's black-tie glitz and the product hype of the North American International Auto Show, profit-rich Toyota is a company figuratively trying on the suit that goes with becoming a full-line global powerhouse and finding the fit doesn't feel quite right. Why would it when it raises expectations and puts a big target on your back?

This is a company whose market value of $179.2 billion comes close to matching its annual revenue of $202.8 billion, which delivered $13.9 billion in net income. (General Motors Corp., by contrast, has a market value of just $13.3 billion, annual revenue of $207.3 billion and net losses last year of $1.9 billion.) In other words, Toyota could have worse problems than a year that sullied its pristine image.

The Japanese juggernaut officially makes no apologies, nor should it. Even as it fields the most consequential car of the decade -- the Prius gas-electric hybrid -- it builds thirsty full-size pickups in Texas and SUVs in Indiana, fashions an indulgent performance marque for its Lexus brand and allies itself with Detroit in a rear-guard action to minimize reform in federal fuel economy rules.

Green mantle gets bruised

All of which recasts Toyota's do-no-wrong image and opens the darling of the environmental left to attacks for being just another car company trying to make a profit selling cars and trucks to as many customers as it can. Imagine that. Yes, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger had it right up on Mackinac Island last May: Toyota is not a division of Greenpeace -- and it never was.

Nowhere was that more apparent than in the heated debate over the so-called "energy bill" that became law before the holidays. Toyota insiders tell me they worry the automaker's carefully cultivated green rep took a serious beating in the process -- the delivery of the bill to the White House in a Prius notwithstanding.

Another image whack: The move by Consumer Reports, the influential magazine routinely derided in these parts as both Detroit-hating and Toyota-loving, to remove Toyota's bullet-proof Camry sedan from its recommended list because the staff concluded it is bullet proof no longer. Editor David Champion even apologized to readers for recommending the vehicle based on the quality record of previous models.

Behind the scenes, I'm told, it was worse: On a separate press event to unveil the car, two Camrys were knocked out with transmission problems. In contacting Japan, they were told Toyota engineers there knew of a problem with a coupler in the transmission but failed to notify their colleagues in the States.

This after Toyota had already claimed the dubious honor, in 2005, of topping the list for most recalls of any manufacturer operating in the United States, including the alleged dullards from Detroit. Recalls now are back down, but the episode rattled the automaker at its highest levels in Japan and exposed Toyota's fallibility.

So did two other things: First was GM's audacious gambit at last year's show with its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid -- a move Toyota matched here last week with its own pledge to field a plug-in player by 2010. Second was the defection of two senior American execs -- Jim Press to vice chairmanship at Chrysler LLC and Jim Farley to the global marketing job at Ford Motor Co.

That just isn't supposed to happen. One of the lessons of this year's auto show is that for the first time in what seems like forever, a fair amount of Detroit's metal is reaching (if not exceeding) parity with its chief rival Toyota.

That means a whole new kind of competition is about to begin and Detroit is back in the game.

Original story HERE

While I am no fan of Toyota, I find it extremely funny that people would somehow expect Toyota to NOT sell full size trucks and SUV's. They are in business to make money and there is a lot of money to be made in the full size truck/SUV arena. To think they would abandon that market because they are a green company is just absurd. :lol:

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Great read, it is excellent to here the truth now and again.

Especially in a "main stream" paper.

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Great read, it is excellent to here the truth now and again.

That is something I can get used too.

:yes:

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Toyota has some major marketing muscle right now and knows exactly how to push the buttons of all the clueless simple minded, non critical thinkers out there. And those, sadly, are the folks with money these days.

The sins are that toyota simply does not have either good styling or anything for the performance minded (aside from the Lexus AS-IF).

Toyota has done nothing more in this country than to tap into the mood and culture of the people with money. This is just more than cars, people

-mediocre products that yes, admittedly have a history of being not broken down much or have had decent resale in the past

-tapped into the green movement (which was a farce created by lefties and lefties are the most gullible car purchasers out there)

-exploited journalism and internet better than anyone

-marketing taps into people's fears and taps into women's thinking too

-use that history more than the actual products today as a marketing ploy (i.e. brand image more than anything sells anything)

-styling that is not cohesive but instead has characiturized traits of agreed to popular styling features

-commercials and advertisements that really only seek to give individuals affirmation and make decisions for them so they do not have to think ("well, it's the best car")

-incentives up the yang to buy market share at any cost

chickens will come home to roost, but toyota has firmly got their foot in the ground in the US now and will always be a major player. In the process we send our money to Japan and they can just spit out anything and people will buy that and put us out of business.

sad thing is so many vehicles are competitive now, its painful to see toyota get rewarded for their general mediocrity.

I see a few things happening.

-the barrage of incentives and cheap leases and increased sales have got to erode their resale here soon. imagine 300k camrys hitting the auction every year. Plus people will simply get bored with them because there are so many.

-recalls and quality problems will break down the invincibility myth. Overpromise+underdeliver= mad customers. Many of these are on their first toyota and i think now these people will be less clannish next time they buy.

-Arrogant dealers will upset people

-everyone across the board will demand better styling and performance which toyota has not yet stepped up to the plate for.

-prius will get lost in the shuffle of everyone else's green advances+toyotas fuel sucking trucks will give them backlash.

-people will see that all other carmakers make reliable cars too

They toyota myth is so strong though, i don't see their sales in the US dropping for at least 5 years.

Edited by regfootball
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Bear in mind also that Toyota probably builds more different models than GM, and sells a wider variety in more markets.

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Wide variety... Oh yeah GM has no variety... Like say a 103hp Aveo and a 443hp XLR-V can be sold at the same dealer and the Caddy costs 10X the Chevy some wide range.

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Add Toyota's recent creation of an "interesting cars" group within the company if you'd like proof that Toyota may have problems.

Then note that the same group is putting together a sports car based on a Subaru chassis, because it's supposedly more suitable for the purpose.

:scratchchin:

I'll take my CTS-V in jet black, please...

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Although it does warm my heart, all this recent negative press for Toyota, I can't help but think that so much of it is just our media's intense hatred for the #1 anything. They've hated GM for decades because they were the BIGGEST CORPORATION ON EARTH, they've hated the oil companies more recently for the same reason.

Now, like a pack of jackals, they can turn on Toyota for it's successes. The Western media are a bunch of vultures. 80% of what we read is crap. The other 20% is propoganda.

Don't believe me? Grab 3 competing newspapers from the same city and follow the same stories, whether politcs, business or even the lifestyle section and you would swear you were reading fiction.

More people need to get beyond the funnies or their horroscope and READ the news.

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Although it does warm my heart, all this recent negative press for Toyota, I can't help but think that so much of it is just our media's intense hatred for the #1 anything. They've hated GM for decades because they were the BIGGEST CORPORATION ON EARTH, they've hated the oil companies more recently for the same reason.

Now, like a pack of jackals, they can turn on Toyota for it's successes. The Western media are a bunch of vultures. 80% of what we read is crap. The other 20% is propoganda.

Don't believe me? Grab 3 competing newspapers from the same city and follow the same stories, whether politcs, business or even the lifestyle section and you would swear you were reading fiction.

More people need to get beyond the funnies or their horroscope and READ the news.

Ever stop to think that it could actually be due to the recent discovery of Toyota's massive hypocrisy?

If they truly cared about the environment as much as their "biodegradable Prius" ad would have you believe, they'd be offering a hybrid drivetrain on the Tundra to offset it's dismal gas mileage. Or at least a diesel engine - surely Hino has one that would be suitable.

I have no desire to see Toyota fall apart (like that would ever happen anyway), but I also enjoy a little reality and objectivity in my news coverage every now and then. The media seems to have found some, and they're trying it out - the results won't be perfect at first, but they'll get the hang of it.

I also disagree with your analysis of the media - it's more like a 50/50 blend of crap to propaganda. The level to which people believe the propaganda determines their ability to swallow the crap along with it.

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