Toyota Recall Crisis Redux

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    Automaker continues its crisis management mishaps

    Yes, Toyota really is in the process of yet another major recall. Although it looks like the company may be learning from previous crisis management (no injuries or accidents related to this one), the fact that it’s recalling hundreds of thousands of cars every few months constantly threatens to turn consumer’s favor.

    Here’s the story, from a USA Today article by James Healey:

    Toyota’s own faulty specifications led to Wednesday’s recall of 670,000 older Prius hybrids in the U.S. for potentially defective steering, the automaker acknowledges.

    And about 350,000 of those same Priuses also were recalled Wednesday for water pumps that could cause the cars to stall.

    The steering problem “is a design-related issue — insufficient hardness on the specification,” says Brian Lyons, Toyota’s spokesman for safety issues in the U.S.

    The two U.S. recalls are part of larger global actions for these problems that cover nearly 2.8 million vehicles of various models.

    Toyota, while still hanging surprisingly well with its less-beleaguered competition, is no longer ruling the U.S. auto market, with that honor going to General Motors as of last month.

    It’s important for brands to avoid being associated with negative terms but, at this point, Toyota’s name – at least in the States – is at serious risk of becoming synonymous with recalls. Just think about how many times you’ve seen the two sharing a headline over the past few years – probably more times than not, right?

    Toyota may still be bringing in money, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the company is more concerned about saving cash in the short term than ironing out all of the dangerous kinks in its system. Consider the fact that today’s consumers are more educated and savvy than ever before, and it’s only a matter of time before the general public chooses to take its money to a company that walks its talk.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]