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Old 03-25-2006, 05:59 PM   #1
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First Cracks in Toyota dream ? ....

Well two news pieces just came out one ysterday, the other today.. and they both deal with the increased number of Recalls of Toyota vehicles.

The first one is a well rounded editorial, dealing with the complexities of evaluating reliability etc... but the second one lets al l"Yote haters have a little laught at the fact that the BS talk we are used to from GM and Ford made its way to the bigwigsof Toyota... Maybe my dream day is coming.. and maybe I am just daydreaming.


[size=3pt]Fear remains a Toyota motivator[/size]

Toyota recalled 2005 Scion tC cars with a glass wind deflector over the sunroof after some of the deflectors shattered. Last year's surge in recalls of Toyota vehicles dented the company's quality reputation.

1 caveat of growth: Quality can't slip
Harry Stoffer | | Automotive News / March 20, 2006 - 6:00 am

Behind Toyota's reputation for quality is this: a deep-seated fear of failure.

"We are kind of paranoid," says Dennis Cuneo, senior vice president of Toyota Motor North America Inc. "You're going along, and things are going quite well, and you're always thinking: 'What could go wrong?'"

Industry watchers have wondered when the relentless growth of Toyota's manufacturing in North America would start to undermine the quality and reliability of its vehicles. The company's leaders have the same concern, Cuneo says.

Toyota and Lexus divisions still comfortably exceed industry averages in such measures as J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study and Vehicle Dependability Index Study, and surveys by Consumer Reports magazine.

But the quality gap is closing as Toyota's competitors catch up. And recalls of Toyota cars and trucks spiked during the past two years.

Cuneo says Toyota has taken steps over several years to shore up its quality standards. He is the top U.S. executive at the holding company for Toyota's North American operations.

"We got on top of it," Cuneo told Automotive News. "We knew we had to stay on top of it, or we could lose this leadership in quality that we have."

Successful experiment

Toyota has new programs to track supplier performance, especially on vehicle launches, Cuneo says. At its new production support center in Georgetown, Ky., employees of every North American plant are trained in Toyota techniques. Those employees, in turn, update co-workers in their home plants.

Cuneo was part of the management team at Toyota's first U.S. plant, a joint venture with General Motors in Fremont, Calif.

The California experiment showed that Toyota could apply its quality methods successfully to a plant with U.S. workers - in that case, unionized workers.

Quality by the numbers
While Toyota's vehicle production and sales rose ...
 	N.A. production	      U.S. sales

2002	   885,719           1,756,127
2003       954,912	     1,866,313
2004	1,132,437	     2,060,049
2005	1,203,819	     2,260,296
Production and sales totals include Lexus and Scion; production totals do not include NUMMI
Source: Automotive News Data Center

... its total vehicles recalled jumped ...
2002	   496,000
2003  	   212,000
2004	 1,132,000
2005	 2,225,000
Note: All years include Lexus and Scion
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

... but its products still rate high in other quality measures
J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study and Vehicle Dependability Index Study (complaints per 100 vehicles)

 	                    2002 IQS | VDI ||2005 IQS | VDI

Lexus	                        88 | 159 || 81 | 139
Toyota	                      111 | 276 || 105 | 194
Industry average        133 | 355 || 118 | 237
Scion	                         NA | NA || 134 | N/A
Note: IQS measures problems reported in the first 3 months of ownership. VDI examines problems experienced by original owners after 4-5 years.
Source: J.D. Power and Associates

More recalls

Click HERE for a picture

Still, U.S. recalls of Toyota cars and trucks rose more than tenfold from 2003 to 2005, to more than 2.2 million vehicles. Some critics, especially competitors, called that development a sign that Toyota's steady expansion finally had dented its signature attribute: its reputation for exceptional quality.

But recalls are an imperfect measure of overall quality. Nearly half the Toyota recalls last year stemmed from a single repair of a steering relay rod, which can crack under extreme steering maneuvers.

The recall covered trucks dating back to the 1989 model year. Some of the trucks are so old that the law does not require a manufacturer to fix them at its expense. But Toyota did.

An Automotive News review of other quality data found no pattern of decline in Toyota vehicles. Those measures include J.D. Power and Associates surveys; ratings from Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports; and limited but valuable warranty data.

Trouble at Scion

One taint for Toyota: Vehicles from Scion, the company's new youth-oriented brand, scored worse than the industry average last year in Power's Initial Quality Study. The study focuses on problems consumers report with their new vehicles during the first three months of ownership. Scion vehicles are assembled in Japan.

Some analysts say the highly configurable nature of Scions creates more opportunities for owner complaints. Cuneo argues that Scion's target audience of tech-savvy young consumers has high expectations.

Cuneo says Toyota reviews the same quality measures that Automotive News examined, along with internal measures. "We're very comfortable with our trends, but we want to do more," he says.

There are countertrends, albeit limited. In 2002, Toyota Division beat the industry average by 20 percent in the Initial Quality Study. Last year, that advantage shrank to 10 percent.

Similarly, Toyota Division was 22 percent better than the industry average in Power's 2002 Vehicle Dependability Index Study, which measures vehicle quality after four to five years of ownership. In the 2005 study, Toyota was 18 percent better.

Lower warranty costs

But during the same period, Cuneo says, warranty claims for Toyota vehicles built in North America dropped by about 30 percent.

Joe Barkai, director of product development strategies at Manufacturing Insights, a research and consulting firm in Framingham, Mass., studies warranty costs.

He calculates that Toyota spends about 1.3 percent of revenue on warranty claims. That's less than half the rate of General Motors and Ford Motor Co., he says.

Barkai cites Toyota's ability to use data to identify and fix problems quickly. That feature is rooted in the Toyota Production System.

"Once they make a decision, the entire organization realigns itself around the decision," Barkai says.

Jeffrey Liker, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan, has studied Toyota for 20 years. He says the discipline Toyota imposes on its growing number of suppliers helps the company maintain its quality record.

Liker says there was evidence four or five years ago that Toyota quality was starting to slip. The company made a priority of finding and eliminating those problems, he says.

One of the problems was the more-frequent transfers of workers among jobs in Toyota's U.S. plants compared with its Japanese facilities.

"They realized that they needed very, very disciplined standard work and training, and auditing by the supervisor, with all that churning and movement of people," Liker says. "They made the adjustments that they needed to."

Furrowed brows

Toyota may face similar problems in the future, Liker says. But if that happens, he predicts, the company would react in the same way.

"They are very systematic," he says. "I don't think that's going to change" - unless Toyota engages in mergers and acquisitions, he adds.

Liker has written about Toyota's methods in several books, including The Toyota Way. His courses cover these methods, which the company shares openly.

Yet so far, Liker says, other automakers generally have not duplicated Toyota's record for quality. One exception he cites is the GM plant in Lansing, Mich., that builds the Cadillac CTS and STS. That factory has adopted Toyota-like methods successfully, he says.

Quality isn't always about defects, recalls and things gone wrong. Toyota also is concerned with "secondary quality" - the feel of door handles, the touch of audio controls, the richness of the grain on the instrument panel.

For example, when the Mazda3's interior trappings trump those of the Corolla, there are furrowed brows at Toyota. That a competitor might have a smoother-shifting transmission or a quieter engine at idle is a pressing concern.

Asians on top

For its annual auto issue, published this month, Consumer Reports compiled complaint data for eight model years from owners of all kinds of vehicles. The object was to show which companies' vehicles perform best over time.

The data show that 8-year-old Toyotas are about as reliable as 3-year-old Ford Motor and Chrysler group cars and trucks and 2-year-old Volkswagen AG vehicles, Consumers Union says.

David Champion, senior director of Consumers Union's auto test department, agrees that quality gaps among automakers are narrowing. Last year, Consumers Union says, Asian automakers' products had the fewest problems: 12 per 100 vehicles. That rate has not changed since 2002.

U.S. companies' products were slightly improved last year, at 18 problems per 100 vehicles. European products held steady, at 21 problems per 100 vehicles

But if the industry's overall quality improvement is reaching a plateau, Toyota's Cuneo says his company won't be satisfied with that.

He says: "Our real objective is to widen the gap again."

Mark Rechtin contributed to this report

You may e-mail Harry Stoffer at

DEEPER SOUCE (membership required):

[size=3pt]Toyota bigwig blames increasing recalls on rising vehicle complexity[/size]

According to Toyota of Europe president Shinichi Sasaki, the continuing escalation in vehicle complexity is to blame for the automaker's increasing number of recalls. The executive points to a rise in safety equipment and engineering factors that have led to the unscheduled service bay visits, not slipping quality standards.

Is Sasaki correct, or is this simply a matter of corporate spin? Sound off in 'comments.'[HERE]

^^^Of course the comments can be viewed in the "SOURCE" link.

Last edited by igor; 03-25-2006 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 04-04-2006, 08:16 PM   #2
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Target, Toyota: Competitors Try To Trip Up the Carmaker on Its Way to No. 1
Date posted: 04-03-2006

Toyota is wearing a target.

As the Japanese company marches assuredly toward capturing the title of No. 1 automaker in the world, overtaking General Motors, Toyota's competitors are determined not to roll over and play dead, allowing Toyota to cakewalk to the top spot.

Nowhere is it more evident than on the hybrid front. Automakers have joined forces in an effort (unofficially) to block Toyota from world domination. DaimlerChrysler and BMW accepted GM's invitation to cooperate in joint development of hybrid technology, in part to gang up on Toyota, some participants have whispered. The trio is expected to deliver a progress report later this spring. Meantime, Ford reportedly is considering joining the trinity, as it gears up to produce 250,000 hybrids a year by decade's end. Other Asian automakers are said to be considering signing up as well.

GM insiders say Toyota was nosing around about possibly joining the coup, but GM and others suspected Toyota was interested in espionage, not cooperation, sources indicated.

Competitors don't want Toyota dominating hybrid technology, especially battery production. Ford already has accused Toyota of deliberately withholding battery production from it.

Another front quietly brewing against Toyota involves E85 gasoline-ethanol fuel. Should E85 catch on, Chrysler, Ford and GM would have a leg up, having already produced millions of E85-capable vehicles. E85 is gaining the support of the U.S. government, members on both sides of the Congressional aisle, and some environmentalists, according to Washington, D.C. sources. Surveys show Americans rank importing less foreign oil higher than environmental concerns. Toyota officials, meantime, have been defensive about praise regarding E85 and any negative charges against hybrids.

Toyota could face other public relations issues on its quest for No. 1. Two high-profile automotive journalists in Detroit predicted at an informal prognostication in December that it wouldn't be an easy road for Toyota. It is likely to get shot with arrows on a number of subjects and by a number of parties, they forecasted.

Indeed, Toyota is gaining a reputation that GM once had of being arrogant. The view is that Toyota seems to have the attitude that it can do no wrong and bristles at any criticism.

Other factors suggest Toyota's journey will be no walk in the park. CNW Marketing Research, the Bandon, Oregon, automotive research firm, recently listed in its monthly newsletter 15 issues facing Toyota.

While the domestics and Germans battle to hold their ground, Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia are attacking Toyota "from a second front," introducing vehicles directly aimed at Toyotas but "at significantly lower prices and with near-Toyota quality" and naming their competitor in ads. Case in point is the recently introduced Hyundai Azera, aimed squarely at the Toyota Avalon. Inside Line, in fact, picked the Azera over the Avalon in comparison.

Toyota faces an age issue, being seen as the Buick of the Asian brands. "Younger consumers are going through a phase of 'Not my father's Camry' just as the 1970s and 1980s youth market went through the 'Not my father's Oldsmobile,'" noted the CNW report. The average age of Camry drivers is 48, compared to Hyundai's 39. The report went on: "Younger consumers see Toyota as a brand for older drivers, lacking distinction and peer approval."

Even Scion, despite its sales success, is attracting older buyers. The average buyer age for the boxy xB has climbed dramatically because drivers over 65 find it a perfect low-cost, roomy, fuel-efficient lifestyle vehicle as younger consumers seek more performance.

Not every Toyota is a hit, including the Matrix and the current Tundra, with key audiences. The Tundra is aimed at the "appearance" segment, not the macho rancher-farmer/towing/contractor crowd, a problem being addressed with the next-generation Tundra.

The women's market, the report notes, is becoming less practical and more emotional, an area in which Toyota lags (though company officials take offense at any notion that their vehicles lack soul). The Ford Fusion has a 55-percent female primary driver penetration. Of them, approximately 40 percent had a Toyota on their shopping list, according to CNW studies.

Economics play a role as well. The Internet has made consumers aware of competitive pricing, competitive features and competitive quality/safety. The public assumes Toyota scores highest on all counts. "Mystique and reality collide. This was the undoing of VW in 2002-2005," notes CNW. Consumers also recognize repair costs are higher.

"General economics have seen household incomes rise while discounted and distinctive (fashion statement) products now appeal to all income groups. That pushed the high-line Camry intenders into Lexus (and other near luxury) models much akin to what happened to Ford's Taurus audience," the report says.

The incentive war and GM's price cuts have put Toyotas at a price disadvantage, by thousands. The report noted that despite Toyota's market share gain last year, North American financial returns were flat. At the same time, Toyota's broadening product line has forced higher advertising spending, and dealers are pressuring Toyota for deeper discounts because of local competitive offerings.

Despite these challenges, CNW sees no decline in Toyota sales, "not by a long shot." The firm concludes that "unlike the Big Three past and present, Toyota recognizes at least most of these issues and is actively confronting them."

Buyers clearly are voting with their wallets by buying ever more vehicles from Toyota, ensuring Toyota will hit the bull's eye in the next few years.
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Old 04-04-2006, 09:20 PM   #3
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"Mystique and reality collide.


I love this line the best. The attitude that the japanese cars are so good and there resale so hi is because of the "mysteque" more than anything. Good articles igor
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Old 04-04-2006, 09:32 PM   #4
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as far as i'm concered about reliability;

Ford Escort > any other car in its class

Those cars keep working, reminds me of my sisters Subaru Justy ;)
Hub caps are for real men.
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Old 04-08-2006, 09:02 PM   #5
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they couldn't win the world wars

they couldn't win the world they are trying an economic take over of america

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Old 04-08-2006, 09:19 PM   #6
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Originally posted by gizmo88
as far as i'm concered about reliability;

Ford Escort > any other car in its class

Those cars keep working, reminds me of my sisters Subaru Justy ;)
Speaking of which.

I have a 94 Mercury Tracer (based off escort) with almost 150,000 miles on it and
have no real problems and I just replaced the alternator and radiator just cause the
OEM parts were old and needed replacing.

AND I AM THE ORIGINAL OWNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and the car just turned 12 years old.
(born on date was 03/1994)

like they say. "Built Ford Tough"
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