Toyota's wince-inducing safety saga continues, with the Japanese carmaker suspending sales and production of eight popular models due to concerns over deadly gas pedal defects. Since September, spiraling bad news has begun to tarnish Toyota's once-sterling reputation for safety and quality. This latest news won't help, say auto observers, and the company will have a logistical nightmare to boot, along with bruised market share.
- Two Top Models "This is a dramatic action," says David Thomas at the Cars.com Kicking Tires blog. The Camry and the Corolla, he points out--among the suspended cars--are "two of the company's and the country's best-selling models."
- Disaster "Replacing a failed part in some 4m cars (U.S. and Europe combined)," writes Bertel Schmitt at The Truth About Cars, "is a nightmare." Detailing the process, he says that though much depends on where and how big the technical problem with the pedals is, "in any case, replacement procedures have to be developed, mechanics need to be trained. Dealers need to be reimbursed for parts and labor. My friends who were in charge of recall programs at a major European automaker had gray hair at an early age." Furthermore, after the floor mat and pedal recalls earlier this year, "customer satisfaction takes a hit. Nothing kills customer satisfaction faster and more thoroughly than repeated workshop visits."
- 'Concern About ... Declining Quality Standards,' begins The Business Insider's Vincent Fernando, "just went into overdrive." The news, he decides, makes Toyota's "over-expansion glaringly obvious."
- Reputation and Market Share Damage "It will not be clear for a few days how much trouble the sales suspension of the eight models will hurt Toyota," writes Douglas McIntyre at 24/7 Wall St. Yet "the news is a blow to the Japanese company that had every reason to believe that it could pick up market share in the US this year," particularly as top competitor GM flounders after the Chapter 11 filing. But now, competitors are sure to "take advantage of such a significant safety issue ... The accelerator problem could become a product liability issue or could trigger an National Highway Safety Bureau inquiry. That kind of bad news could damage a product quality image that it has taken Toyota decades to establish."
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