Car buyers rejecting “Toyota Terror” accusations

“Terror on the Roads: Runaway Toyotas,” was the title of an entry on a prominent Brazilian blog March 31.

But today Toyota Motor Sales reported March sales increased 35.3 percent over the same period last year, on a daily selling rate (DSR) basis.

Meanwhile the Harvard Business Review has analyzed a survey of U.S. American vehicle owners conducted between February 20 and March 2 to find out how they feel about Toyota. They found “Toyota owners’ overall satisfaction was in line with other vehicle owners’.”

Said the journal:

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.

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.” And regarding the big question, “Would you buy another Toyota? Again, the results were clear. Toyota owners did not believe they would be less likely to buy a Toyota vehicle in the future because of sudden accelerator furor, indicated greater willingness than non-Toyota customers to consider buying a Toyota, and considered Toyota to be one of the most reliable automotive brands.

Together these indicate that Toyota sales may not suffer in the long term, unlike with Audi after it suffered its own sudden acceleration witch hunt in the 1980s. That said, tort lawyers have filed suits that could cost the company many billions of dollars. What the free market system perhaps won’t do, the legal system very well could.