TTAC - Toyota: Quality is Job Two

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    By Robert Farago
    June 2, 2007

    Japanese society is known for it's rigid social stratification. Depending on the listener’s relative status, there are four ways to say “this is a book." Individuals within this system are well aware that anyone who moves upwards from their "natural" place in the pecking order risks ridicule, jealousy and attack. Hence the ancient Japanese proverb: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down." Automotively- speaking, Toyota is the tall nail these days, and boy, is it getting hammered.

    Earlier this year, Toyota passed General Motors as the world’s largest automaker. Last month, Toyota’s U.S. operations ended Ford’s 76-year reign as America’s second biggest automaker. If you’re wondering why Toyota hasn’t celebrated these accomplishments with a bit of good old American swagger, see paragraph one. The Japanese carmaker knows it’s in the crosshairs. For now, the company figures that silence is the better part of valor.

    The problem is simple: Toyota’s reputation exceeds them.
    The automaker is famous for building vehicles that never break, rust, fail or fall apart. Automobiles that are so well-built they’ve stood the old ‘70’s idea that “made in Japan” means cheap on its head. Toyota’s reliability rep is so strong that a disgruntled aircraft owner recently evoked the company’s mythical mechanical prowess on an internet forum: “I want Toyota to make a single engine piston [airplane].”

    For some time, domestic supporters have been trying to tell American consumers to stop drinking the Toyota Kool Aid. Citing independent surveys, they claim The Big 2.8 have narrowed the quality gap to the point where it’s statistically meaningless, making the discrepancy a matter of [misinformed] perception. More to the point, they say the Japanese company is no stranger to product delays and recalls, and mechanical issues. Which is true.

    While Toyota’s design, parts and production process remains second to none, carmaking is such a vastly complex business, and Toyota such a vast enterprise, that mistakes are inevitable. No carmaker– or car– is perfect. Toyota’s recent problems with the new Tundra pickup’s defective camshafts illustrate the simple fact that shit happens– especially when you’re building a new product in a new factory using new suppliers.

    Still, there’s no question that Toyota’s rapid expansion in the North American market is giving the company growing pains– or should I say, continuing to challenge the storied Toyota Production System.
    Ironically enough, Toyota is suffering from a perception gap. Their quality problems are not significantly worse than before, but the company’s newly assumed tall poppy status makes them seem so. Simply put, people are paying attention.

    Well, the media is, as witnessed by the relatively prominent play given the Tundra screw-up. That said, it would take at least a decade of crap Toyota products and bullet-proof Detroit metal to reverse the curse. And no matter what The Big 2.8 do or don’t do, Toyota is not about to let its products suffer from endless rounds of mechanical mishaps and expensive recalls.

    Toyota is taking radical action to sort out its North American quality woes. The company is currently retraining ALL of its North American assembly workers. This “back to basics” course is designed to identify and correct defective working practices and highlight the need for increased front line vigilance. At the same time, Toyota is devolving decision-making powers and back office support from its Erlanger, Kentucky headquarters to regional centers in California and Texas.

    Anyone who thinks Toyota will ease-up on its commitment to product quality, brand integrity and customer satisfaction is delusional. The automaker is nowhere near the peak of its global or national ambitions, and they know exactly what they have to do to get there. And make no mistake: Toyota’s current production problems are NOT a reflection of corporate hubris. They're a direct result of their desire to keep a low profile. To avoid the hammer.

    How’s this for an inconvenient truth: building vehicles abroad would be the easiest way for Toyota to assure product quality and increase profits. They refrain from doing so for political reasons. The Japanese automaker knows that their top dog status makes them the logical scapegoat for failing American automakers. Planting factories on U.S. soil at least partially protects them from the slings and arrows of outraged patriots.

    Speaking to Automotive news, management guru Jim Womack went further. The co-author of a seminal book on Toyota’s lean, mean production machine claims that the American political landscape makes it difficult for Toyota to be Toyota.


    "The short-term rate of expansion in the States is not being driven by long-term judgment about what is truly best for the business as a business," Womack said. "Rather, it's being driven by an assessment of what is necessary for the company due to short-term politics.

    “Toyota is terrified that it will be blamed for the collapse of Ford and the potential collapse of Chrysler, followed by GM."


    If you were wondering how such a successful automaker could have such a paranoid corporate culture, it's best to think of Toyota's psychology as the reverse of Abraham "hierarchy of needs" Maslow's aphorism. When you're a nail, everything looks like a hammer.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=3865
     
  2. alltracman78

    alltracman78 New Member

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    The question is, when will GM and the rest of the American auto makers take the necessary action to solve their quality woes?

    BTW, you know what's funny?
    Some of the problem parts on Toyotas are made right here in the States [or Germany].
    As much as I hate to admit it, Americans won't [note I didn't say can't, I said won't] seem to make good parts.

    Good examples are
    Bosch ABS units
    AC Delco ECUs
    The infamous truck ball joints
    Those Tundra camshafts you were trumpeting about
    You know how often we [I'm a Toyota tech] get cars in with CELs or misfire problems that are solved simply by replacing American or German spark plugs and O2 sensors with Denso [OEM] ones?

    It's a sad state of affairs when Americans are being out manufactured [quality wise] by other countries.

    I hope people will wake up eventually, but I'm afraid they won't.
     
  3. Milin

    Milin It's Terminal.

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    that's a pretty stunning observation there. Very very interesting.
     
  4. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Job 1 = laying low
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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  6. nateg

    nateg New Member

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  7. nuclear

    nuclear OT Supporter

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    I have been saying this in every Toyota thread for weeks, but the sacriders won't listen. :mamoru:
     
  8. Bernout

    Bernout OT Supporter

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    Interesting article. So, Toyota is acting like a ball-less little bitch.
     
  9. alltracman78

    alltracman78 New Member

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    By trying to solve their problems?
    Or not running around like a retard because they're doing so well?

    I really hope they do.
    Despite working for Toyota, I hope all of the Big Three pull through.
    If nothing else, healthy competition is a good thing. It makes good companies stronger and brings better products to the market.

    It's just amusing how because Toyota is doing better than GM you feel the need to post every time there is an issue with something Toyota. :rofl:
    Yes I understand there are plenty of idiots that believe just because it's Toyota means it's awesome. You just make yourself look just as bad.

    BTW, I owe you an apology, I thought you deleted this from the other forum. Feel free to delete my thread if you want.
     
  10. RicketyCricket

    RicketyCricket NOLA Saints crew, True Blood Jessica crew, Communi

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    I also work for Toyota. I think that just like the article said "shit happens"

    What most people don't realize about Toyota building plants in the US is that normally, the states that they are built in give HUGE tax incentives and other benefits so that the company builds there. I read somewhere that Indiana gave millions and millions to Toyota in the form of land and tax incentives
     

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