Toyota appeared to have made all the smart moves in the car industry. Their big bet on hybrids gave them a market when gas prices soared, leaving the US auto giants with an SUV dependent product line and a lot of inventory. Just when it looked like the car industry was about to recover Toyota has been hit with a problem that could damage the brand for decades. Sticking gas pedals are worrying for a driver (to say the least). They are made more worrying when the maker of the car a) seems to ignore the problem and b) doesn’t seem to have an immediate fix.
Toyota has been forced on to the defensive, which, as every PR operator knows, is the worst position to be in. Essentially they’ve made it hard for people to trust them. As a Toyota Prius owner I am amazed by the lack of direct communication. It’s as if they simply hope the problem will go away.
Toyota can get through this. But they need to focus on rebuilding trust and not simply saying sorry. That means doing things that will earn that trust. Right now, Toyota’s tag line of ‘moving forward’ couldn’t be funnier.