(Photoshop credit: Reader Joe N.)
U.S. regulators have announced they will seek a record $16.4 million fine against Toyota. Reader Bob e-mails:
Well, the feds and their subsidiary GM just fined Toyota $16M. Coincidentally, Toyota just annihilated the competition in sales during March. This, under the immense duress of having the government and media slam them daily. And I do mean daily. So, how did Toyota manage to beat the competition, while facing an anti-Toyota campaign in full swing culminating in fines this week? Toyota slashed prices and offered incentives to customers. Precisely what the government/GM would not have done. If Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were in charge of Toyota, as they are GM, they would have raised prices to make up for lost revenue. The month of March is an almost textbook case of why business is best left to businessmen, and ruining business should be as limited a domain of the feds as voters can possibly keep it.
I smell another Waxman witch hunt on the way…
Related from the Harvard Business Review: Does Media Coverage of Toyota Recalls Reflect Reality?
Using a national online panel provided by TRC, a marketing research organization, we interviewed 455 U.S. American vehicle owners between February 20 and March 2 to find out how they feel about Toyota. A total of 58 Toyota owners (13% of total) and 397 owners of other brands (87% of total) completed the survey, which matches the proportion of Toyota to non-Toyota drivers in the U.S. Most of the survey was comprised of satisfaction questions ranked on a 0 to 10 scale (10 being completely satisfied).
Results: Toyota owners’ overall satisfaction was in line with other vehicle owners’. Using regression analysis, we found that Toyota owners cited four drivers of overall satisfaction with vehicle quality: reliability; ease of maintenance; safety; and brakes. These four predictors explained 88% of the variance in overall satisfaction with their vehicles. The same four factors explained 83% of variance in satisfaction with non-Toyota owners. We concluded that safety and brakes are equally important for both Toyota owners and owners of other vehicles when evaluating how satisfied they are with their vehicle’s quality.
These respondents aren’t living under rocks. Both for Toyota and non-Toyota owners, 93% of respondents had heard about the recalls. But contrary to media prognostications, the recalls don’t appear to have affected the Toyota brand image adversely among its customers. Toyota owners, compared to owners of other vehicles, agreed more strongly that Toyota appropriately handled issues with respect to the brake-pedal recall; they were more likely to say they believed that this incident is an outlier, that typically Toyota has a strong reputation for quality, and that recall shows Toyota’s commitment to customer safety.
We measured a number of perceptions regarding other brands among respondents. Toyota owners did not believe that domestic automakers such as GM, Ford, and Chrysler are catching up to Toyota and Honda in either safety or reliability. These results again indicate a clear and solidly strong brand advantage for Toyota among current Toyota vehicle owners.