• Oct 2nd 2009 at 4:31PM
  • 53
Akio Toyoda appears to have brought with him the art of plain speaking to the office of company president, a position he's occupied at Toyota since June. Like most every other automaker these days, Toyota has been struggling, having seen its sales targets slip from 10 million units to a 2009 estimate of 7.3 million. But to listen to Toyoda is to understand that the company's mounting troubles can't be blamed solely on the state of the global economy, as he is using the stark language of How the Mighty Fall, a business book by author Jim Collins, to describe the company's state.
According to Automotive News, Toyoda says his company is "grasping for salvation," which is stage four of five outlined in Collins' book, with Toyota having already experienced Stage One, "Hubris Born of Success;" Stage Two, "Undisciplined Pursuit of More;" and Stage Three, "Denial of risk and peril." What's Stage Five? "Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death." Yikers.

We think Toyota is a long way from Stage Five, but with everything from a recent massive recall to currency fluctuations and eroding quality perceptions among the masses – to say nothing of mounting competition from Korean, American and European automakers – Toyoda appears to understand that his company has a lot to address in both the near- and long-term, and he's using unsubtle language in his early days in office to make sure the rest of the company knows it, too.

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[Source: Automotive News - sub. req.]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well Toyota may make dull looking cars but at least they are reliable and hold their value unlike the unreliable Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Peugeot, Citroen, Vauxhall, yes they break down and are of poor build quality
      • 5 Years Ago
      Releasing the hybrid version of their mini-van into US sales would have to help.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota was growing and expanding right up to when the global recession hit while other car makers were scaling back,so I imagine the sudden drop in market share must have really hit them hard.
      No more juggernaught growth.
      Now they've got Hyundai and Kia replacing them in the entry/value segment.
      So they're dealing with lost market and a corperate identity crisis.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "BIG KEY. LISTEN TO YOUR ENTHUSIAST CUSTOMERS, and your customers in general."

      Wrong, enthusiast customers won't support a company, mainstream customers do, following that advice is extremely poor business practice. Example? See Saturn

      That includes the APPEARANCE. boring as hell is still boring as hell.

      The American majority of car buyers loves boring. Example? See Toyota

      That includes the PERFORMANCE. again, boring as hell is still bad.

      Again:The American majority of car buyers loves boring. Example? See Toyota

      "(and by that I mean more than the mindless drones who will buy whatever is put in front of them with a 1500 rebate on it.)"

      Also for all those who said Toyota has the better business model? Guess what. It's not, it's just a variation on a theme. The cost of being number one? See Toyota or GM. No matter how you try you can't run as fast as the smaller players.

      • 5 Years Ago
      At least they know it before it's too late unlike GM and Chrysler.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If toyota is in state 4 then Ford ( which is in the best shape amongst the big 3) should be in stage 6 and Chrysler and GM should be should be in stateg 8 and 9 respectively.

      in otherwords that is terrible News for the Big 3.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota is the new GM, and Hyundai is the new Toyota.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How about building interesting cars? Toyotas become the Buick of Japan.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You know, it was only the other day that I realized that you can get a Tundra with the 5.7L V8 and TRD supercharger and have a 500+ horsepower vehicle with a manufacturer warranty for around 30 grand. I mean it's only interesting in the sense that you can get any vehicle for that price that'll carry a manufacturer warranty while having that much power but still...gives some hope.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Interesting cars? By how's standard? Building cars for enthusiasts is probably the worst business decision they could do at the moment. Toyota has had hundred times more 'interest' in their Prius then they ever had in the Supra and MR2 combined.

        Granted they are building an LF-A and affordable FR coupe with Subaru, but they have to up the ante on quality and reliability if they really want to compete. Most consumers look for reliability, resale value, safety and comfort when they look for a car. Its the second largest investment most people make aside from home-ownership, most people aren't looking for the same infantile criteria that automotive blog readership judge 'interesting' cars by, they are looking at it in a dollars and cents perspective. Toyota need to look out for the narrowing gap with brands like Hyundai, VW's increased presence in the US, and their performance in emerging markets like China.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Toyota make "interesting" cars? Since when have they been able to do that?

        Toyota makes a reliable toaster that's bought by the 40+ crowd. And those Scions are "the bomb" among seniors on a fixed income.

        Oh, what a feeling!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sea Urchin - Most Americans do not want fun to drive. Yes, I said it! That's a fallacy of a narrow segment of the population such as you see here on Autoblog. What most Americans want is just simple, reliable, economical and comfortable transportation that is easy on the eyes. Nothing magic, just a regular ol' car.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Toyota hasnt designed one interesting looking car in the last 5+ years, the most exciting car in their line up is the Tundra and its not even a car! If you walk on a Toyota lot and look at all the cars theres not one car that stands out compared to other cars on the road, they are all the vanilla boring bland Japanese Buicks inside and out. They drive boring, they look boring, they are boring. Hondas almost as bad now, but at least their cars drive better. Nissan and Mazda are the only Japanese manufacturers designing cars that actually look interesting....
        • 5 Years Ago
        Building cars for enthusiasts is probably the worst business decision they could do at the moment. ---------I did not mean Supra, they need to make Corolla more like Mazda3 or Civic, smooth, agile, great cornering, a car which is affordable, efficient, fun to drive and still looks great.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Tundra is a piece of crap if judge it by truck standards. I know at least three owners that have deep regrets of buying a Tundra, it just isn't up to the standards of Ford, Chevy or Dodge. On rough roads it bounces around like an overweight stripper, it's just not made for the harsh duties of a working farm. Pitiful gas mileage.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Mercennarius - dude, it's fine. this guy drove an LF-A around for a bit, everything's under control.



        seriously though, sea urchin has it, surprisingly, interesting cars... though I think the bigger issue isn't their cars but their business model. They became so refined, so minutely focused and micromanaged that their economies of scale simply couldn’t cope with reality.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The dollar falls now,
      The Yen rises to fairness,
      Survival not sure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Automakers and the media have focused too much on who sells the greatest number of cars instead of the wiser approach of who makes the most money per vehicle. I'd rather sell fewer vehicles at a larger profit than simply be the mover of the greatest number of vehicles. Anyway, it comes as no shock to me that Toyota is in the current situation it is in. It removed its focus from good small cars and tried to be everything to everybody. They quit making anything cool with two doors such as the Celica and the Supra. That was surely the beginning of the end. Then Toyota became obsessed with numerous overlapping and anonymous SUVs. They keep bloating their vehicles with humungous center consoles that interfere with driver legroom and add addtional rows of seating until their products overlap in mission. They have perhaps six or seven SUVs depending on how you count the Venza. Yet they no longer have a small SUV similar to the original RAV4. The current Tacoma pickup is probably as large as the original Tundra. To top it off, Toyota's larger 4 cylinder motors are quite frankly gas hogs. Toyota has a reputation for efficiency with it's Prius, but their small vehicles such as the Matrix and the Scions are quite frankly inefficient given their size category.

      Unfortunately, the small cars they do have are cheap appliances that forego independent suspensions for cheap torsion beams. And as mentioned before, Toyota no longer makes the cool premium two door coupes or two door hatches like the older Celicas or Supras.

      A RAV4 doesn't have to haul seven people. A Tacoma doesn't have to pull a thirty foot yacht. So quit trying to scale everything up and make every vehicle do everything. Recognize and build to the various niches. Lose the cheap suspensions and transmissions and start building good cars again instead of appliances.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow Roger Smith was saying the same things back in 1981........
        • 5 Years Ago
        Difference is, I think the people under Toyoda are more likely to listen that the people who were under Roger Smith.
      • 5 Years Ago

      Stage 5 was delivered to an East Texas courthouse today. Let's see what's in those boxes the judge received. I bet Toyota's shredders are working overtime but it might be too late. Oh what a feeling...Toyota.
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