Wednesday, February 03, 2010

659 More On Toyota

659 More On Toyota

Here come the unexpected consequences. First there was the floor mat recall, then the accelerator pedal recall and all in all multi millions of Toyotas are or soon heading for the free repair shop to get work done that shouldn't have to be done. But while the immediate physical problem will be fixed, other types are here to replace them.

First of all, there's GM. GM, the car company you own if you're an American citizen, just killed one of its venerable brands, Pontiac. Okay. What's that to do with Toyota? The two companies co-manufacture the Pontiac Vibe, a small SUV that looks almost exactly like a Toyota Matrix, because that's what it is. Doddering and tottering GM figured it could hook up with a company that still knew how to build cars and they'd have a hot seller. They were half right. They sold plenty of 'em.

Then, there's Volkswagen, which says it's going to be an "aggressive competitor" and "won't target any specific manufacturer." Yeah. Right. Those new discounts? Just coincidence. Ditto those new discounts from GM, Ford and Hyundai.

The free market at work? But can the competitors still make a profit with the lower price? And if they can, why wait until a competitor is on the ropes?

Honda says it's not doing anything. It doesn't have to. Its most recent recalls, affecting under 200,000 vehicles in the US were for things like badly working door locks and some obscure cosmetic problem with some Accords. You can bet demand for Honda cars will rise. You can bet they won't unreasonably increase production to meet the demand.

As for Toyota itself? The Secretary of Transportation says they were slow to respond to the safety problem. That's probably somewhat true. But respond they did. And if you have one, it'll get fixed, and you won't spend money, though you will spend time.

But the company will spend plenty of both and then have to work on its reputation for safety and reliability. They can build 'em bulletproof for the next ten years and a great many would-be customers won't believe it.


Shrapnel:

--Year over year sales results for January 2010: Toyota down 16% Ford up 25%, GM up 14% Chrysler down 8%. Your correspondent has followed the nine lives of Chrysler closely since the 1950s. They've managed to hang on even when that seemed like anti-gravity. But now, it's iffier than ever and if they can survive this climate, they will be the same kind of miracle as the '69 Mets and the '69 Jets.

--The groundhog saw his shadow and we get six more weeks of winter. No surprise there. What would have been surprising would be for Punxsutawney Phil to leap out of the arms of his captors, grabbed some one's microphone and started railing about having to do this dog and pony show every year with the near-universally same result.

--Several readers have complained about my persnickety and "old fashioned" insistence that February be pronounced correctly. It's not old fashioned at all, it's ultra modern For example: unlike the previous President, the current one can properly say "nuclear" which is the start of a trend toward pronunciation as it's meant to be.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

No comments: