Defensive Strategy

Toyota’s Nightmares

3 Feb 2010  

Here is a nightmare to think about. You are driving along in a car when it suddenly and for no apparent reason starts speeding up. You can’t stop it; the car just goes faster and faster. You try to get it to slow down but you can’t. The brakes don’t work. You weave in and out of traffic, desperately trying to avoid what seems more and more like an inevitable, horrible crash. It is simply terrifying.

Here is another one. You run a car company with a reputation for quality and reliability. A problem develops that affects millions and millions of your cars and this problem actually causes some spectacular crashes that kill people. You can’t figure out precisely what is wrong, so you try one fix and then another but you can’t really find the problem or say that you have solved it. The press grabs the story, your competitors attack and government regulators pounce. You have to shut down your factories while searching for the answer. It is simply terrifying.

Of course, both of these nightmares are very real.

Toyota is facing a massive problem. The Toyota brand may come through this fine, but it certainly isn’t a given. The longer the nightmares continue the tougher it will be for Toyota to bounce back.

4 Responses

  1. andrey says:

    Tim, there has been a pretty interesting article on which relates to two of your topics – Toyota and Tiger Woods. Here is the link:
    Indeed the similarity of the situations, mistaken reactions, temporary consequences and general health of the brands are amazing. It is easy, of course, to talk with hindsight, but even not touching the background (fidelity and safety) both brands (Tiger and Toyota) could have reacted in more thoughtful way.

  2. Juan Giordano says:

    Today Hyundai used the SuperBowl spots to very elegantly show they are a viable option to Toyota’s, without mentioning their competitor, for quality, looks and price… did you all get the same feeling? A complete home run in my opinion…

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