Over the past few weeks I have been watching the Toyota recall fiasco out of the corner of my eye. It began as a news story (which is different than its actual start date) and it has not gone away. Well, you know the online “you know what” has hit the fan when you can go to Comedy Central’s site and see this
Now, it appears that Toyota has really done some serious long-term damage to one of the most respected brands in the world. How? By being slow to react and being aloof enough to give enough fodder to someone like Jon Stewart to skewer them. Sure Jon’s not NBC, ABC or CBS but he’s more influential
So what will this do to the car industry? Many other manufacturers will reap some of the benefit of Toyota getting bad press both online and off from the likes of traditional media and even Steve Wozniak. Yup, that Steve Wozniak. Jalopnik reports:
At a speech on Monday Wozniak claimed his new 2010 Toyota Prius, which isn’t under the current Toyota recall, randomly accelerated while in cruise control mode and that he could duplicate the event. After reading a similar story on Gizmodo Wozniak commented that he was having difficulty reaching the manufacturer to tackle his issue.
We called Toyota and they were clearly anxious to speak with Wozniak and so was he according to his assistant. “That’s exactly what we were hoping would happen,” she told Jalopnik. After passing on the contact info for a Toyota technical expert the company called us and asked us if we could actually send him Toyota U.S. President Jim Lentz’s personal number.
Ouch. Well, here is my totally unprofessional and unbiased thought on who could reap the greatest reward from Toyota’s mess. Hyundai. I say unbiased because I don’t own one and I get no remuneration for this opinion. I just hear really good things about their cars as of late. They have real strong word of mouth and what is the car buying public gonna do, turn to Detroit? Ha! Toyota with its feet dragging approach has left the door open for someone to knock them down several notches. I know they are off my list for future car purchases, what about yours? In this day and age if you can lay low and do some good work you can count on the top dog of your industry doing something really boneheaded at some point to create opportunity. And the mistakes of today are more deadly because of the online spread of the bad news. Where have you heard that before?
So here’s to Toyota’s taking the mantle for reputation gaffe of this short year. Can’t wait to see what the rest of 2010 holds regarding “stupid company tricks”.