- the Unclemobile that has been in the limelight due to faulty accelerator pedals in left hand drive form.
Today I was bored. I came home from my day job, made myself a cup of tea as usual, ate dinner with the family and decided that I would write something that would basically bore the heck out of me on a regular day. But since I was already feeling bored, writing about a company like Toyota couldn't make the day any duller.
Toyota is currently reeling from the blows it had sustained from all the recalls it had to make from faulty accelerator pedals that have purportedly killed a lot of people, mainly Americans. It has learned that in its relentless quest to be the world's number one car manufacturer it has slackened on its quality and safety of its products. Things have basically gotten so out of hand that Toyota's head honcho Akio Toyota had to stand in front of the American Congress and apologize for all the damage done. And there is a whole lot of damage that had been done aside from the important fact that some lives had been lost. In terms of monetary damage, thousands of jobs are in jeopardy as people building and selling Toyota cars would suffer. As Toyota has a few factories in America, Europe and China, where a majority of the recalls have happened, the economies in these countries would be somewhat affected.
Actually this is nothing new as everyone knows things like this would happen if a major accident or event occurs. Imagine this as another economic tsunami, we've just experienced the effects of the American credit crunch that had collapsed a lot of financial houses in America as well as in Europe and we had experienced a dot com crash in the late 1990s and the Asian financial crisis during the same period. Economic crisis' like these happens; sometimes the cause is a lack of money, manipulation of money, overinflated reporting and so forth. What is happening to Toyota is part of a vicious circle that shouldn't be taken seriously as its part of the cycle of world economics. Of course Toyota will recover, slowly but surely. But for the sake of an argument; if you are a motoring enthusiast would the death of Toyota affect you?
I would be more concerned about losing Toyota when it comes to 4X4 vehicles, as the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Hilux are important vehicles with fantastic off road capability. Both 4x4s are super reliable, hardly breaks down and have good off road ability, better than other 4x4s, bar the Land Rover Defender in my opinion. If Toyota were to close down, I would be disappointed as their 4x4s are fabulous machines. But those are their off road vehicles, what about their current batch of road vehicles?
Lets picture a world without Toyota at this point of time ( February 2010). Lexus is considered a separate entity for the sake of this argument and is not affected. This would mean no Vios, Corolla, Camry, Prius, Land Cruiser and Hilux. The Vios and Corolla look like a shrunken Camry (or the ultimate Unclemobile) with some youngish styling touches here and there. But if you went out and bought a Nissan Latio or a Nissan that sounds like Venereal Disease your motoring life would be still similar if you bought the Toyotas mentioned above. There wouldn't be a real difference as the Nissans will still give you an average (meaning slightly dull) driving experience. . You may feel a bit of a change if you went and bought a Honda Civic, a Mazda 2 or 3 or a Mitsubishi Lancer as all are better drives.
All current production Toyotas in 2010 are compacts, small sedans, sedans, large sedans, station wagons, MPVs, SUVs but no coupes, really sporting sedans, grand tourers or sporty cars in general. You see, in their quest to be number one Toyota stopped producing any flagship vehicles or coupes. There are currently no Trueno, Sprinter, Levin, Celica, Supra or even an MRS (MR2) in their lineup. Toyota in 2010 are totally concentrated on making and selling dull shopping trolleys that are inoffensive and only somewhat decent to drive and lack a certain sort of sparkle. A serious lack of character.
Can anyone out there tell me of a current Toyota that had a great sounding engine since the Toyota Supra of the 1990s? Can anyone also tell me of a current Toyota in the forefront of car design like the Toyota Altezza (actually it was supposedly a Lexus, I know) with its crystal like rear lights and chronograph watch like instrument gauges? The only decent car in their current catalog of cars is the Mark X, which is still conservative in design even if it is rear wheel driven, therefore slightly sporting in nature. But it isn't an all round sports sedan that I would want to buy.
I believe that Toyota would need to rediscover their soul or spirit and start making cars that are slightly wilder in terms of performance, looks and character as well as regaining their supposedly bulletproof build quality. Maybe they should not keep their best designs for Lexus and send some over to their budget models. But whatever the excuse Toyota wants us to believe the fact is that choosing to become number one has dulled their senses, including that all important sense of quality in their cars. Going too fast too soon is a fault already admitted by Toyota. Therefore the lesson that could be learned is that aiming for number one isn't that good a target if you forget the fundamentals that brought you to where you are right now. I have to now state that in life, quantity isn't as good as aiming for quality.
-the car that may bring back the sporting spirit in Toyota. IF they produce it.
I hope Toyota rediscovers this all important fact and remember building cars that are like the ones they built in the early 1990s and then start creating cars for actual driving instead of just transport. Maybe with the Toyota-Subaru AE86 'replacement' things will get better. But I believe that after this recall debacle, it will take a longer time for it to enter production. We shall wait and see, but in the meantime, I am not losing any sleep over this Toyota issue.
- A man walks into a Toyota showroom with some pictures. "Hello, can I buy this?" "No, we don't produce it anymore. "
- The man continues. " What about this?" " I'm sorry again, We've stopped producing that too."
- The salesman then says " However, can I interest you in this? It has good mileage, 4 doors and a roof."