Toyota’s Fall From Grace

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This week’s column was going to be a review of the 2010 Toyota Corolla. But given the week that the world’s largest automobile manufacturer just had, failing to mention the sticky accelerator issue within some of its lines (including this one) could render the whole review moot.

As General Motors’ latest managers will attest, being the biggest ain’t necessarily the best, or even good. It’s a fact that makes others want to rip you down. GM’s fall from grace over the last couple of years was almost Shakespearean in its magnificence, the likes of which we haven’t seen until, well, this week.

Things move so quickly these days, the goldfish attention and memory of the general public so fickle, that I’m reluctant to predict what’s next for either of these titans.

But what the hell.

I don’t agree that Toyota was slow to admit the pedal problem. Given Toyota’s (and the Japanese’s) reputation for quality, it’s more like the media were slow to make a meal of it. That changed last week. Toyota’s sticky accelerators actually stole attention from Steve Jobs’s iPad.

Certainly, its reputation is significantly sullied – there’s no way to calculate how much damage has been done, which is partly what makes it such great copy for journalists and blahgers – but Toyota’s faced the issue head-on, accepting responsibility and fixing it.

I predict that they’ll be back and trusted again within months. They’ve been as open as David Letterman reporting tainted Maple Leaf products.

Honesty! Who’da thunk it?

Clever PR hacks have promoted the formula since the Tylenol scare of the early ‘80s, but my grannie’s grannies lived by the same advice and they were illiterate. Be open, say you’re sorry, fix your messes and people will forgive you. Honest.

If you think bruised reputations can’t be fixed, look at what Steve Jobs has done these past 12 years. Better still, look at how well GM products are faring right now.

The 2010 Corolla review will come later. I swear.

Image courtesy of Insight Imaging on flickr

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