Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Storytelling and myth about Toyota's crisis

"Toyota's success generated anxieties among car makers, medias, national interests
offering a perfect target for economic intelligence"

Since Toyota entered into a spiral of inflated statements
regarding the security of their cars, I felt like there
was a topic to investigate beyond the path of official
statements, both of the firm and the market. I read tons
of reports and sent my own stories to Paris, then days
after, seeing the increase of assassinating reports
shelled from the US targeting the Japanese firm, I
focussed even more on Toyota development. Curiosity?
There is more than a business story here and the man at
the helm is sincere. He's maybe the only one.

"I fear the pace at which we have grown may have been too quick"

I never really had a single look for such sedan vehicle,
privileging more the roadster type of cars, but the
crisis stirred my curiosity. So I took my pen, recorder
and asked a few people around a finance event, held since
Monday in a major hotel complex downtown Tokyo. Now,
reading papers, blogs and twitts, I found a hate campaign
and it was highlighted in this article blog title which
caught me by surprise: "Toyota Congressional Hearing
Theater by Daniel Farber" on CBS.

The word chosen here --theater-- might actually be the
right word for a horde of journalists who decided that
the Nagoya firm had lived long enough and that it had to
die, now.

Smeary campaigns

There are right now industrial and financial empires
which are on course of collisions, following the drowning
of GM, the US car market was ready to shoot at Japan Inc.

The misleading of the Nagoya firm came after the recall
of 8 million cars and the death of 5 people in cars
accidents in the US. From there the critics are mostly
vociferous. Still, there is no more probability of
dangers with Toyota than with an other car maker, and the
high standard of vehicles are guarantees that the firm
produce quality cars. But some don't buy it.

Quotes: Buzz and craze

"The reason is that the Toyota story is a fabricated
tale." "Toyota Calamity Presents Fresh Opportunity For
Rivals." "Toyota PR needs to quit clowning around." "Will
the Prius Brake Scandal Mean the End of Toyota?"

There even is a sense of holly war, as transpacific
writers and evangelists alike entertained. More, serious
university such as the Harvard Business School" entered
into the craze: "Tragedy at Toyota: How Not to Lead in

This other one mixed with some sense of crusade: "You
live by the sword, you die by the sword. Toyota's weapon
of choice has always been quality, a competitive
advantage that prompted many Americans to stop buying GM
and Ford brands. Toyota can only regain its footing by
transforming itself from top to bottom to deliver the
highest quality automobiles." etc...

"Schadenfreude is joy at the misfortune of others"

Could it be that there is a media myth behind Toyota
problem? Any dirty hand in the tool box?

According to a source, expert in Japan automobiles
manufacturing, the current shot on Toyota technical
recall is nothing else than an operation that was set by
spooks: "Toyota's success generated anxieties among car
makers, medias, national interests offering a perfect
target for economic intelligence" one source said.

"Toyota is a threat to car makers, the firm has a top
position and any technical trouble in this period of
depression and economic crisis, it's good to get a
villain," according to an other source specialized in

But an other expert of the car industry went even further
yesterday telling me there is a probability that the "US
intelligence manages now the Toyota crisis to manipulate
media and facts." No wonder, there are some who seem to
be smoking their own office carpets to deliver such
crackbrained statement but who can deny that Toyota's
pain is the other car makers gain...?

Well, not exactly: "Many “Buy American” backers are
besides themselves with glee at the potential downfall of
a smug Japanese giant. And GM is trying to take
advantage of the Toyota crisis by offering $1,000 to
people trading in Toyotas, Nathan Hegedus writes in


Three congressional hearings called to investigate how
Toyota and federal safety officials handled the sudden
acceleration problem. Other Toyota officials, including
Chief Executive Akio Toyoda, are then scheduled to appear
today and next week.

Why Toyota president accepted to testify? "Why other
regions in the world did not enter into a media,
politics, industry triangle of interests" my source
added. EU did not.

While we do not know why the car accelerates suddenly.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda agreed that the "expansion
of the firm safety and volume might have confused the car

Already, in response to what he characterized as a
communications breakdown between customers and company
safety engineers, Toyota's US COO Jim Lentz told the
congress that the automaker would soon implement a "swat
team" of specialists who would investigate vehicles with
safety troubles within 24 hours.

And then I found this peace from CBS again pinpointing
rightly the target:

"Jim Lentz told the House Energy & Commerce Oversight
Subcommittee yesterday that the company will share
results of a "comprehensive evaluation" of the
automaker’s ETCS-i system (Electronic Throttle Control
System with intelligence) that is has commissioned from
an outside engineering consultant, Exponent, as soon as
those results are complete. CBS News Investigative
Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has obtained a
confidential copy of the Exponent report, dated Feb. 4,
2010. The report attempts to exonerate the electronic
throttle controls system in Toyota vehicles."

Company sales grow...

Toyota sold 537,454 vehicles in January, excluding
subsidiaries Hino and Daihatsu Motors. 416,411 Toyota
cars, buses and trucks overseas and 121,043 units in
Japan. In Japan, sales jumped 45.3 percent during the
same month from the previous year, while they gained 8.8
percent overseas, Toyota said... The new figures
underlined robust demand for the iconic Japanese
automaker although it faces a deep crisis over its flawed
accelerator and brake systems that have forced it to pull
8.7 million vehicles worldwide... Earlier this month the
company said it expects to burn two billion dollars in
earnings in the year to March 2010 due to the recalls,
but still sees a net profit of 80 billion yen for the
year against an earlier forecast of a loss...." Afp

Toyota dead-end or power ups opportunity?

A few things appear as sure things eventually : 1) Toyota
needs a crisis team 2) consumer sentiment in February
might be influenced by the publicity given to Toyota
defects and 3) wouldn't it be time to use such painful
blunders to enhance technologies and harmonize these with
current time : clear cars, EV and their declination of
car types and brands and make those more profuse on the
market? Our media rush into hanging hundreds of
engineers bizarrely has a smell of witch-hunt, it is not
helped by the arrogance of a firm that forgot what
quality meant. Will it end?


How to win a cause when you are party to it? Here is the
point: "Unfortunately USA Government owns Toyota’s
biggest competitors."

Media's daredevils shows usually end in embarrassment

1 comment:

  1. On the previous years, I have read news about recalls of Toyota. I think it add to their bad reputation. And I think with their successful releases in the following years for sure it clears some of their mistakes


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