TOKYO — As Toyota’s problems mounted in North America with the announcement of a halt to sales and manufacturing of the bulk of its cars, commentators in Japan fretted Wednesday that the automaker’s problems could seriously hurt the reputation of the rest of Japan’s manufacturing sector.
“Toyota’s reputation for safety is in tatters, and it is inevitable that its image among consumers will suffer,” the Sankei Shimbun daily said.
The Japanese feel a certain sense of pride that, despite the nation’s long economic slump, a handful of prominent exporters like Toyota dominate overseas. Toyota has led the way in gas-electric hybrid vehicles and other environmental technology.
“The discrediting of Toyota could even destroy the world’s trust in Japanese manufacturing, which relies on its reputation for high quality,” the Tokyo Shimbun daily warned.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. announced Tuesday that it would stop selling and building models that were already the subject of a recall over a problem with accelerator pedals.
The eight models, including the popular Camry and Corolla sedans, accounted for more than a million sales in 2009, 57 percent of Toyota’s American total for the year.
Toyota took similar steps in Canada. Officials said that the company was considering what measures to take in Europe but that it had not made any concrete plans.
Analysts in Japan have raised concerns for some time that Toyota’s rapid growth in recent years was overstretching the company. Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, has himself berated the company for excessive confidence, which he said had set the company up for a painful fall in the global economic crisis. He said last year that Toyota was “grasping for salvation.”
“We have had fears for quite a while now that Toyota lacked the human resources and production capacity for such rapid expansion. By chasing numbers, they were becoming seriously outstretched,” said Masahiro Fukuda, manager of research at Fourin, a global automotive research company based in Nagoya, Japan. “Many of us weren’t surprised over the big recalls; we were more surprised that it took Toyota so long.”To read full New York Times story — Go Here Now.
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