The mighty Toyota falters and tries to soft pedal the malfunctioning pedals…

A full-page newspaper advertisement by Toyota that was an attempt to explain the situation and allay the fears about the car manufacturer’s problems with sticking gas pedals and malfunctioning brakes was not convincing to me.

It said there has been “a lot of talk” about safety problems. That implies that it is just all talk — not to worry. It reminds me of a cigarette company that ran an advertisement years ago that said there has been a lot of “hub bub” about the dangers of smoking.

I also notice that sometimes the televangelist folks use the tactic of making light of serious worldly problems or politics that don’t agree with them. One will say to the other in that kind of all-knowing and mocking tone, “oh my it’s all over the newspapers”, as in don’t pay attention to facts, just believe what we tell you and keep on sending the money.

But back to the Toyota thing. First the stuck gas pedals were blamed on slipping floor mats, then it was announced a fix had been found to correct some type of mechanical malfunction of the accelerator. And now we are learning that it has long been suspected it might all be in the electronics, but that is something apparently Toyota would rather not discuss.

And then there is the bad brakes — I’m not sure what the deal is on that. But too much go and not enough stop can be dangerous when it comes to motor vehicles.

Meanwhile, in an ironic twist of fate, Ford Motor Company, the only American car company that did not take government bail out funds, is capitalizing on Toyota’s woes and is trying to build or rebuild a reputation as a maker of dependable and safe motor vehicles.

Maybe success has spoiled at least one Japanese automaker, and hopefully it’s not just hype and at least one American auto maker has decided why not try putting quality and dependability over glitz.

What goes around comes around.


And here’s another interesting thing about the whole saga. While the Japanese executive that heads Toyota was shown bowing and and apologizing for the whole mess and demonstrating his shame (as is Japanese custom), the American head of Toyota was quoted in the ads making the soft pedal comments that implied that the whole problem was more talk than fact. How Japanese. How American.

ADD 1:

A day after my original post I saw a Toyota commercial on television that was much more contrite, with the voice saying something like we are sorry that we failed to live up to our own expectations and the voice promised Toyota was already working to regain the trust of customers. Maybe they are taking all that talk seriously after all.   

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