Toyota is reeling. What bad news has not
come in in the last month? February began with the transportation secretary accidentally telling
Americans to stop driving certain models. Then analysts sniffed
skeptically at the company's profitable quarter, while commentators compared
the high-flying brand to the mythical Icarus. CEO Akio Toyoda asked
the public for forgiveness, only to watch haters gloat
over the Prius recall. Now the beleaguered titan is announcing its popular
Corolla may be added to the recall list due to steering problems. How
does this add to the unfolding Toyota disaster?
- Points More and More to Design Flaws The Washington Post's Frank Ahrens
says the first thing to notice is that it looks like "Toyota has
finally gotten over the r-word (recall), swallowed its pride and has
begun to show some transparency." Disturbingly, he points out that this
recall adds a new problem--steering--to the earlier ones of "runaway
acceleration" and "trouble stopping." That makes, Ahrens says, "the
trifecta of vehicle-control issues. It suggests design flaws rather
than problems with parts suppliers or driver error."
- Corolla Magnifies Problem Douglas McIntyre,
writing at Daily Finance, says "recalling three different sets of
vehicles with three different sets of problems" could pose quite a
problem for Toyota. Furthermore, the new Corolla issue will "further
undermine that company's reputation for quality," while "substantially
increas[ing] the number of class action and liability suits filed
against the auto maker." At both Daily Finance and 24/7 Wall St., he hypothesizes that the company may have underestimated the money it will lose on this fiasco.
- And It's Already Pretty Magnified "In January," notes Zacks Market Commentaries,
"Toyota lost more volume than any other auto group in the industry,
driven by the recall." Also, "it was the first time since February 1998
that Toyota's monthly U.S. sales fell below 100,000 vehicles."
- Now in 'Full-On Crisis Mode,' declares Matthew DeBord
at The Big Money. The situation: "The once invulnerable Prius has been
affected, the top-selling Corolla sedan is being investigated for
steering problems, and Akio Toyoda, the company's embattled president
and grandson of its founder, is dodging Congress' desire to have him
testify in person about the Great Recall."
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