Should you shy away from Toyota?

Published in the Serious Buyer, Serious Seller Eletter, February 25, 2010, Written by Viraf Baliwalla

Since Toyota seems to have now replaced Tiger Woods as the scandal of the day, I decided to make this month's article about the woes of Toyota and see what your thoughts were on the subject.

It wasn't long ago that Toyota was on top of the world, untouchable, without reproach. How quickly things can change. Although, I have to wonder whether things have really changed in the hearts and minds of their customers (which is what ultimately matters) or has the whole issue just been overblown to make people think things have changed.

Recently, there have been a slew of safety recalls on various models for brake overrides, drive shafts, ABS brakes and steering hoses, floor mats, and the infamous Accelerator pedals. Mr. Toyoda himself, chief hauncho from head office in Japan was summoned to the US to testify as to why his cars were killing Americans, as if this was all an intentional act of negligence or conspiracy.

The press even interviewed some Toyota owners who bought Toyota products within weeks of the recalls being announced. These people proclaimed that they would never buy a Toyota again and that the company knew all along but sold the cars anyway.

OK people, is there something seriously wrong with your heads? Think! Where does the media dredge up such people.

As an independent vehicle buying service, we take no sides other than that of our buyer customers. If they want Toyota, we get them a Toyota. If they want Ford, we get them a Ford. And being completely objective, we believe that Toyota got to be where they are because they did a great job in building great cars consistenly over the long haul. I don't personally own a Toyota, never have. However, I have to look at what is happening and say that Toyota is being painted with an unfair brush. That's just my opinion.

It is my understanding that there were a small number of serious problems that took place. Admittedly, I don't know the exact number of vehicles, accidents or fatalities involved. Although I don't belittle the severity of those instances nor the assistance that Toyota should ethically provide to the families affected, I also respect Toyota for going to the ends of the earth to shut down their production and order their dealers to stop selling certain models until the problem was resolved. They stopped selling their products worldwide at an enormous cost to them and their dealers in order to take a preventative approach to ensure the safety of their customers. Sorry media, but as a business owner, I have a lot of respect for that.

I spoke to several of our customers who bought or leased Toyota's with our help. I'm happy to say that not one of them was dissuaded from making their next vehicle a Toyota. And Mr. Toyoda, I am embarrassed for the litigious nature of our North American society to try to take you to task because you tried to do the right thing.

To our readers, I'd love your feedback on this topic. Am I taking too soft a position on this or do you agree with my viewpoint?

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