A couple days ago Bill told you about Toyota's Inexcusable Failure after the company had to recall over three million vehicles.
learning. This is a lapse in fundamental execution that even Chrysler
on its worst day would have likely avoided. Ohno and Shingo must be
spinning in their graves at what boils down to sheer apathy. The
original Toyodas would consider resigning on the spot in shame over
such an embarrassment. Just how far the company has fallen from those
founding principles, and just how much work Akio Toyoda has ahead of
him to put his grandfather Kiichiro's company back on track is apparent.
Up until a couple months ago I owned a Lexus ES350, one of the vehicles involved in the recall, and remember receiving two or three notices in the mail to please replace the defective floor mats. Floor mats? I didn't have time to drive over a hundred miles to the nearest dealer to replace floor mats. Perhaps I should have. Or perhaps Toyota should have followed up with remote owners like me to handle the replacement.
In any case this was a failure on Toyota's part. From containing and fixing the root cause of the problem years ago to ensuring customers were satisfied and safe, this debacle could and should have been handled far better. But there's one sign of hope… yesterday we heard the expected apology.
public apologies if their company is in crisis — Akio Toyoda’s comments
on Friday were surprising.
A little more than three months after assuming his post, the president of Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, recited a long list of mea culpas to astonished reporters at the Japan National Press Club.
expressed grief over a fatal crash that led to a recall of 3.8 million
cars, regrets about an expected second consecutive annual loss and
sorrow over the decision to close the company’s first American factory
shamefully unprepared for the global economic crisis that has
devastated the auto industry, and is a step away from “capitulation to
irrelevance or death.” The company, he added, is “grasping for
Not too shabby. But what does it mean?
“In the Japanese business setting, it’s a serious act,” said Ulrike Schaede, a professor of Japanese business at the University of San Diego.
Schaede said that the apologies were meant to send a message to company
employees and car buyers that Mr. Toyoda planned a new direction for
Yes, far more meaningful than what we typically hear from American CEOs, if we hear one at all. And if we do it's usually given out the windows of their limos on the way to their vacation homes.
Good luck Mr. Toyoda.