Toyota Quality – Recent Development
Toyota has worked hard in the past decade to build a good reputation. Quality and reliabilty are associated with Toyota vehicles more than any other automotive companies. Does the complement still hold for its newer generation of vehicles?
Back in the late 90s, I had a 1992 Toyota Camry LE that was passed down to me by a generous uncle. As a student at the time, I believed it was the greatest car. The Camry never let me down – it started smoothly in the very cold weather; the car remained trouble-free despite lack of frequent oil changes; fuel economy was good; it even had a “Sport Mode” button on the automatic shift lever for occasional performance boost. What else could a poor university student ask for?
Fast forwarding to 2010, years have passed and newer generations of Toyota are supposed to better than ever, right?
The answer depends on who you ask.
R.L. Polk & Co. Customer Satisfaction Survey
R. L. Polk & Co. has just released the results of the 14th Annual Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards. Which company has the most brand loyal customers? Toyota is the winner of the “Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer” award. The only mystery here is: Does it include the Lexus division as well? If it does, was the survey conducted before or after the Lexus floor mat tragic accident? Certain recent events may have caused the poll results to change drastically. One would have to wait and see what will happen in next year’s survey results.
Detroit New (Nov 26, 2009)
In a news article, titled “Toyota not looking so shiny now“, from Detriot News states that:
“… Consumer Reports apologized to readers for recommending the problem-plagued Camry V-6.
He also said the magazine had decided new Toyota models could no longer be given the benefit of the doubt — or its prized “recommended” label. And Toyota’s V-8 powered Tundra four-wheel drive pickup was labeled “unreliable” by the magazine, the unofficial Bible to discerning car and truck buyers.”
Los Angeles Times (Dec 23, 2009)
In another news article, titled “Toyota found to keep tight lid on potential safety problems“, from Los Angeles Times states that:
“A Times investigation shows the world’s largest automaker has delayed recalls and attempted to blame human error in cases where owners claimed vehicle defects.
During a routine test on its Sienna minivan in April 2003, Toyota Motor Corp. engineers discovered that a plastic panel could come loose and cause the gas pedal to stick, potentially making the vehicle accelerate out of control.
The automaker redesigned the part and by that June every 2004 model year Sienna off the assembly line came with the new panel. Toyota did not notify tens of thousands of people who had already bought vans with the old panel, however.
It wasn’t until U.S. safety officials opened an investigation last year that Toyota acknowledged in a letter to regulators that the part could come loose and “lead to unwanted or sudden acceleration.”…”
Consumer Reports (Dec 7, 2009)
In yet another article, titled “Analysis shows over 40 percent of sudden-acceleration complaints involve Toyotas“, from Consumer Reports states that:
“Toyota and Lexus models for 2008 had a much greater incidence of sudden, unintended acceleration than other brands, according to Consumer Reports’ analysis of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety complaints database…“
Toronto Star (Jan 21, 2010)
Toyota has finally announced a massive recall which includes more than 2.3 million vehicles in Canada and U.S. The recall is due to problems with the gas pedal, which can cause the accelerator to get stuck even there is no floor mat – this seems to the be root cause of the common “unintended accerlation” problem as mentioned above.
Toyota Canada also recommended that Venza owners to remove the drivers’ side plastic floor mats, for obvious reasons.
There are more articles out there, but I think most readers get the point.
Without doubts, Toyota has had a great track record on producing quality vehicles. However, it is questionable whether the company has continued the tradition on newer models. It certainly takes many years of effort to build up a good image, but only takes months to shatter it. Can Toyota continue the success and remain to be the world’s biggest automaker? Only time will tell.