Two weeks after announcing the recall of 2.3 million cars and trucks that may have sticking gas pedals, and just days after admitting there may be a problem with the brakes on 2010 Prius models, the namesake and top guy at Toyota finally addressed the controversy.
Akio Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota, held a press conference today in Japan.
He wasted no time apologizing for his company cranking out potentially unsafe cars. Mr. Toyoda said, "Believe me, Toyota car is safety, but we are trying to increase our product, so this kind of procedure is good for customers. So please believe me, we are always, 'customer first is our priority.'"
Mr. Toyoda backed up his mea culpa by pronouncing that he would head a quality control committee to look at where Toyota went wrong. And the company will bring in outsiders to evaluate quality control at the Japanese automaker.
It's a good start, but Toyota needs to go further.
The two recalls for sticking gas pedals and the Prius brake questions not only scare and frustrate Toyota customers; they are examples of a company that has left customers with more questions than answers. Yes, Toyota owners have been told which models are being recalled, how dealers will be open longer hours and how their safety is first and foremost.
Yet the on-going investigations have created more questions than answers about how these problems developed.
Toyota customers want these questions answered.
Toyota still has a chance to turn this PR nightmare into one where people will look back and say, "At least they were out front every day re-assuring customers."
Mr. Toyoda's apology helps that process.
Let's see if Toyota can take the next step.
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