Toyota’s Problems and Sufferings: Eyes to See From Outside, Hearts to Sense Outside


Although Toyota announced the recall of a huge number of its cars, problems are still likely to continue for a while.  The news coverage has been pretty in U.S. including the news of President Toyoda’s possible visit to the U.S. very soon.  Toyota hearings expected at the U.S. Congress, responses of the US legislators, reports and articles,…… there are plenty of overseas media coverage open to public in this internet age ? news coverage in Japan are not the only source of information to us.  All you have to do is just ‘Google’ Toyota.  It is important to follow news from various aspects.  Especially, in this case, it is about the leading company of Japan and the problems were identified mainly at overseas, mainly US, the largest market of Toyota.  Relying only on Japanese media will be misleading.  Quite many good source of information is available via internet, the media of web age, including internet newspapers and magazines.

I would say that the newspaper most read by business persons of the world is Financial Times  (circulation of 420 thousands is pretty modest compared to that of major Japanese newspapers, but its impact to the world is incomparably huge compared to Japanese newspapers), and a weekly magazine most read by business persons of the world is The Economist. What do you think?  Articles in Financial Times and The Economist report news of the wide world, they do not particularly take U.S. side, is often critical to U.K, too, the reports they write are high quality, and their views are well balanced as well as objective.  These characters are what you might call ‘the British style’, but I feel that many articles are indeed the ‘works of professionals’, i.e. they grasp good timing, and has very good focus.  Personally I am a fan of these two and have them in my ‘Kindle’.

For Japanese readers who do not read much English, I recommend ‘JBPress’ , an On-line Press.  I read ‘Toyota Slips Up’ and ‘Toyota Losing Its Shine’  in The Economist 2009 December 10 issue and was a bit concerned when I found President Akio Toyoda’s comment saying that he thought ‘Toyota is already at a dangerous point’ after he read ‘How the Mighty Falls’ by Jim Collins.  A large part of these articles in The Economist is available in Japanese at JBPress.

The Financial Times also has some coverage on Toyota issue recently, and some of them are translated into Japanese, again at JBPress.  (These articles include ‘Toyota By Itself Invited The Fall Of Its Reputation’ , ‘Staggering Sons Of Toyota’, ‘Toyota Messes Up With Customer Service, Its Damage Control Is Not Working’, ‘Safety Crises Threatens Toyota; The Price It Has To Pay For Going Too Far in Spreading Its Market Share’ )  I feel that these two newspaper and magazine are musts for business persons.

What happened to Toyota ? a company known for its technological excellence?  Mr. Reizen who is sending out messages from U.S. gives us good insights into the brake and accelerator of electric car.  (this web-site is run by Mr. Ryu Murakami).  His information made several things clear to me.  In this new system of electric control, the mechanism of brakes and accelerators are very different from traditional ones.  However, this is no excuse to end users, i.e. the drivers.  Brakes and accelerators are particularly important components for drivers, and if anything goes wrong with them, it may directly cause accidents which will risk the lives of drivers or other persons in the car, or people involved in the accident. Automobile makers are responsible for being strategically prepared to provide cutting edge technologies, create market value of their products, and build good customer satisfaction/social relations.

In other words, the point is whether you are capable of telling customer-oriented ‘stories’ of cars, of driving.  It’s not just about developing great technologies.  Securing good control of parts that directly connect to safety of human life must be a top priority.

The press meeting of Toyota was, as I have written in my previous column, a big problem.  What kind of attitude/meeting is good to the eyes of the public?  To answer this question, a team of professionals is critically needed.  All Toyota members, I expect a lot from you.  Please keep on working hard.