Your take on the Toyota debacle?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Steve Schaffer, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Pedantically: cars aren't investments, they're purchases. :)

    And a car doesn't lose value until one realizes it by selling it for a low price. If you replace your car everything three years, then a sudden, unexpected drop in blue-book value is a problem. But if you drive your car for 10 yrs / 100k miles, it's not obvious this acute devaluation matters.
     
  2. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Do bad things happen with mass produced product? Yes.

    Is Toyota immune? Of course not.

    When the fecal matter hit the rotary oscillator did Toyota respond in the best possible manner? No, it could have been better, but I speculate Toyota has actually done more than most other manf's would have in the same scenario.

    I suspect somebody's head in Toyota city is going to roll for this (and given Japan's corporate culture I suspect that will happen in a very literal way), Toyota will continue to work its PR team into quadruple overtime and its quality scores will be back to the top of the charts in 24 months tops.
     
  3. KevinGress

    KevinGress Supporting Actor

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    Word of mouth isn't a good equalizer in the marketplace? And with the internet it's a lot easier to announce your love, or hate, for a product. People are going to do their homework on stuff they think is important. The great thing about the marketplace system is that if Toyota is really putting out products that are more harmful than their competitors, they will judged by the proper authority - the buying public.

    The government has a role, certainly, but it's exceeded its reach here as it has in just about every avenue of life. What exactly are these hearings supposed to accomplish? It allows people in many cases with no real business accomplishments or acumen to exoriate a company that historically has strived to succeed by putting out a superior product.
     
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  5. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    It's important and helps. But "word of mouth" is not synonymous with having an informed, rational marketplace.

    And you didn't seem to be speaking against these specific hearings, whose value is debatable, but against the role of any gov't oversight regarding public safety.
     
  6. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    I work in the automotive industry making brake rotors. (not for Toyota) I can say that each part is tested and retested and then tested again as an assembly and then tested again as a whole etc. before the parts are approved for mass production. Then the government and private companies (consumer reports, J.D. powers, etc.) also test. From when a part is requested for quotation, through design and prototype phase and then put into production takes anywhere from 2 - 5 years with many, many people involved. You would be surprised to know the amount of paperwork, meetings, testing and energy is involved in something as minor as removing 1/2 of paint on a surface. To have issues in the design and implementation phase go un-noticed would be very difficult.

    Once a part is in production, the first sign of troubles would be warranty claims. This is a highly watched statistic because it is money given away that effects the bottom line and a company's reputation. Once again for a issue to go un-noticed would be very difficult. Now if the issues arise after the warranty expired, this would be harder to track.

    Not only did Toyota have a reputation with the customers producing well built vehicles, but they also had the industry benchmark standard on automotive procedures and organization. There are many references on why you should do things like the Toyota system.

    With that all being said, I have an extremely hard time believing that they were unaware of these issues with how serious they were and for how long they went on. To generalize, the Japanese culture has strong traditions involving "saving face" and also about not questioning or confronting a superior. I don't know if this played into these issues or not. I have not ever owned a Toyota, but I am sure that they have built many quality cars & trucks. And as mentioned there are bound to be issues with things that don't go as planned or don't work. To me the bottom line is their creditability. They did not bring these issues to light in a timely manor, and possibly covered them up, so when they say they fixed the issue, can they be believed?
     
  7. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Originally Posted by DaveF
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    According to purported Toyota documents from a whistleblower, they were aware of the problems for a couple of years now.

    I didn't read it thusly initially (as my responses show), but fair enough. The problem, as I meagerly understand it, is that safety organizations like NHTSA (whose role might turn out lamentable, in reality) are not created or funded by the Judicial branch. So then this view seems to me as saying the gov't should only play a reactive role in public safety, with no proactive participation.

    Broadly speaking (broad enough for this venue, I hope), I'd rather have safe drinking water regulated and verified proactively rather than only reactively suing the water treatment plant after people die.
     
  9. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Oh I agree entirely. But you probably already knew my attitude toward regulation from the financial crisis thread.
     
  10. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    I see it from the point of view that people and the organizations they create will try to get away with whatever they can get away with. That is why laws and regulations end up being needed. If people weren't naturally self-serving then the legal profession wouldn't have any reason to exist. Toyota, as an organization, built up a reputation for quality, but obviously they figured that 100,000,000 dollars of extra profit was worth a few deaths and a massive loss in reputation. The blowback from their decision will affect them far beyond the few extra dollars of profit that they tried to hang on to. Wait until the lawsuits start piling up from people who lost family members because of Toyota's greed and venality. I definitely know that I would think twice about buying any of their vehicles now, whereas before I wouldn't have thought twice. Toyota, in one fell swoop, has put itself right in line with the former big 3 in showing that it considers a few extra dollars as more important than their customer's lives.
     
  11. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

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    Conspiracy theory or not, I simply do not believe that post-bailout GM would be raked over the coals like Toyota has been. I'm glad the spotlight is on Toyota over this recall but it seems like the government smells blood in the water and is looking to damage Toyota rather than hold them responsible.

    As for my personal take, this former Toyota owner will be one again in the future. I still trust Toyotas much more than any GM or Ford.
     
  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    We may find out, with GM announcing it's new recall.
     
  13. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    That's how Congress always is. I don't care what the issue is or what the person is being called before Congress for, they always have to be so sanctimonious. Everybody is treated from go like a hostile witness. "How DARE you, sir!" I figure, you called somebody before you to get their testimony, just treat them with respect and let them speak. But, it's all theater. "We want to show the folks back home that we are gonna get these suckers!"--whether the "sucker" is a Toyota exec or a baseball player or a little girl selling stale Girl Scout cookies.
     
  14. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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  16. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    The more I think about it, maybe I will get one of those Toyotas. It might come in handy getting out of a speeding ticket on the way to work.
     
  17. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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  18. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    Sorry, but that reasoning doesn't make sense when you include "a massive loss in reputation" in the equation. In fact, the effect on reputation and the decreased sales that results from it keeps them in check more than any regulations. As for the regulations, they don't appear to have worked, since Toyota has this massive problem.
     
  19. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    They didn't expect to get caught; therefore, in their arrogance, they didn't expect a "massive loss in reputation" and therefore the 100,000,000 in extra profit vs fixing the problem was deemed to be a risk worth taking. However, they did get caught and the 100,000,000 they should have spent fixing the problem in the first place isn't looking like such a good deal, considering what it is costing them in reputation, financially through the recall, and the soon-to-arrive financial hit they are going to take when the lawsuits from affected families and individuals start arriving on their doorstep.

    If the regulatory structure failed to prevent the problem then all it means is that the regulatory structure needs to be tightened more. If companies like Toyota are unable to act in an ethical manner under the present structure then it means the structure has to be made even more strict. Frankly, the auto industry has had too much say in how they are regulated. The legacy of egregious and criminal actions by auto industry executives tells me that action beyond dictating the safety requirements of cars is required. Every one of the people involved in the decision to allow potentially deadly out-of-control cars to roam North American highways should be charged with pre-meditated murder and go to jail if convicted, instead of home to their comfortable mansions. They should also be left open to be personally sued into bankruptcy by the victims of their crimes. Maybe that would finally send the message that consciously allowing lethally defective cars to roll around on the highways and byways, killing people, is ethically no different than if they had picked up a gun and just shot the people that their rolling car bombs have maimed and killed.
    Would I be able to go on my merry way if it was proven that I knew a car I had sold to someone had a defect that made it a lethal weapon, and the person who bought it was killed or maimed? Not bloody likely. So what makes the suits in these companies immune to being charged for deliberately allowing deadly weapons, in the form of their cars, to roll around killing people?
     
  20. Guest

    To assume that companies, governments or people in general will act ethically is wrong. While there are honest people out there you are less likely to find them in positions of power because ethics costs money. Business and politics are dog eat dog and ethical people often times get chewed up and spit out or go with the flow to save themselves. Lets face it, Toyota thought the ethical decision wasn't worth a hundred million and went with the cheaper alternative. They thought they could make a cheap effort to fix the problem as an equipment issue and wouldn't get called out on it. "Oops, our bad"

    The good thing to come from this is the other car companies are now fixing things while Toyota takes the hit for the industry. Honda did an airbag recall, GM is doing the steering recall and Nissan is doing a brake recall. Nissan didn't even have any deaths in their recall yet but the effect of Toyota's press tipped the scales so that a recall may actually save Nissan money or earn it more by showing how proactive they are when it comes to safety.
     

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