Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Did Anyone Notice Toyota Was Right?

Toyota cars did not have an electrical "fault" that could trigger "unintended sudden acceleration" according to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

A 10-month long investigation appears to have proved what Toyota had maintained all along -- floor mats and driver error caused the sudden acceleration that made national headlines much of last year.

Now the question is: Is anybody paying attention? Does anyone care?

In 1986 Audi cars were the focus of a CBS 60-Minutes story that blamed faulty Audis for a series of car crashes following "sudden acceleration." Audi quickly spoke up and honestly explained to reporters that drivers were prone to hit the wrong pedal, in a panic, and instead of hitting the brake they were pressing down hard on the accelerator.

Toyota executives apparently assumed that last year, but were wise enough not to blame their customers like Audi did 20-years earlier. Even after federal safety experts cleared Audi, consumers were very slow to come back to the brand.

Toyota did not publicly blame its customers this time, and still got hammered in the media. But, the Japanese automaker seems to be recovering much quicker than did Audi.

So, what's the lesson?

Produce quality products, don't be too quick to point fingers when something goes wrong, commit quickly to investigate what went wrong and promise to fix it, if it needs fixing. And then work with the appropriate agencies and authorities to find answers and a fix.

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