• Feb 25, 2010
When seasoned executive Jim Press surprisingly jumped ship at Toyota to work at Cerberus-controlled Chrysler, we were half expecting the 36 year veteran of the Japanese automaker to dish some dirt on his ex-employer. After all, Press was the highest-ranking U.S.-born executive Toyota ever had, and if anyone had the scoop on the company he would. In the end, other than a couple of jabs at the Prius, Press took the high road, leaving his post at Toyota with his dignity intact.
But after watching Toyota knee-deep in recalls and with the government breathing down the company's collective neck, Press appears to have had enough. The Detroit Free Press reports the typically positive-tongued Press released a statement saying that "the root cause of their problems is that the company was hijacked, some years ago, by anti-family, financially oriented pirates." Shiver our timbers, that doesn't sound good. Press adds that the negative forces that led Toyota astray didn't "have the character necessary to maintain a customer first focus."

But while Press is very much down on some of the plank walkers that helped lead Toyota into its current morass, he has a decidedly rosier take on the new top boss. Press reportedly said in his press release that Akio Toyoda is the only person who has what it takes to save the Japanese automaker from its current predicament, adding "he is very capable, and he embodies the virtues and character that built this great company."

Is Press finally speaking out against the forces who pushed Toyota to become too big, too soon, or is he angling to get his old job back? We're guessing the former is likely the case, as Press already has 40 years of automotive experience under his belt and the next couple years at Toyota are likely to be challenging ones. Top tip, Keerthi!

[Source: Detroit Free Press]


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  • 46 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's a good thing Press hasn't been working for American corporations because "anti-family, financially oriented pirates" have been how American companies have operated for 60 years and how they've wrecked the workforce and economy of this country to the point we are at now.

      Welcome Mr. Press to the American way of business...I hope you enjoy your "family oriented" time at Cerberus. What an idiot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is obvious nobody, including autoblog and ALL of it's readers understand how insignificant this recall is. To put it in perspective you have a far better chance of Obama and the democrats impacting your life in far more negative ways than a toyota ever killing you.

      This is not a fatal flaw in all toyotas, this is a very, very select few of freak toyotas. However the problem in the White House and the ones in congress and the senate are far more dangerous. Period.

      I would buy one tomorrow if they made something I wanted. I'm just not in the market for a refridgerator - I mean car. (i.e. - boring as hell is what they build)
        • 4 Years Ago
        The problem is how Toyota handled the recall. First they blamed "a supplier in Indiana", then it was the drivers "since we can't recreate it", then it was the floor mats and pedals. Yesterday Lentz could not say they have the fix to the acceleration issue. So this is all congresses fault? Even Toyoda admited the company took their eye off the quality ball, I guess that's Congresses fault also.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't think it makes any sense to not buy a car just because it lacks the brake override...for one thing the brake override can stop you from being able to add a little bit of braking without dropping the revs, which can be annoying if you're trying to keep the revs up. Yes I know they're boring cars but that doesn't mean you can't drive it like you're in LeMons.
        Also, while Toyotas do indeed have a statistically higher ratio of incidences of "unintended acceleration" I really think at least part of this has to do with the fact that their average driver happens to be pretty old. So there's a big overlap between their drivers and the people who have a tendency to ram their cars into shopping malls, food markets, etc. even when they're driving Volvos or Fords or whatever when they get confused Audi-style. I mean the median age for someone who drives an Avalon is 67...so like half the drivers are older than that...some a lot older than that. And not to hate on old people or anything, but not all of them are quite that sharp anymore. Anyhow I know how to shift into neutral, as well as how to turn my car off so at least for me this is a total non-issue. I care a lot more about the crappier interiors modern Toyotas seem to have than anything else really.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The other problem is how these cars will react with age and miles. Another stranglehold Toyota has had in public perception is unmatched longevity. I have heard over and over how Toyota fans would take a five year old (or more depending on the degree of their zeal) Toyota over a brand new domestic. As these parts and sensors get older, who's to say the incidents in unintended sudden acceleration won't rise? So chances are slim now, but when you hand the car over to your 16 year old daughter in five years, do they double, triple -more? Are you qualified to tell me and everyone else and guarantee that they won't get worse at all, or maybe go away? I think people buying Toyotas are not okay with that, and neither should you be.
      • 4 Years Ago
      what a weird picture to go along with the post. i mean come on how awkward does he look.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The managers who led the company astray should all be walked out the door, but first they should be made to read some of the Toyota brochures from the 1970s, that touted all the little details that Toyota put into their designs back then, ones that made their quality and reliability so great.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the TOYOTA situation is just sensasionalistic media. My family only get toyota cars and never had a proble. They should get money as other cars companies too. They are the best!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think those (big government loving posters) who want everything regulated really just want the government to protect them from the consequences of their poor decisions or actions. Government shouldn't have to pad everything for you. If you use your brain, you won't get hurt as much. If you do get hurt from your decision, you learn how to avoid making that decision next time around. Government shouldn't be there to prevent everyone from making decisions. While one decision may be bad for one person, it could be great for another.

      And of course there are those who have foolishly thought Toyota was nearly faultless and invincible for all these years. Many have snuggled up to "cozy little" Toyota because they have believed that Toyota gave them security. They thought they would never be bit by Toyota. But no, no, no.. It does have teeth too. This is real life! And it just bit those of you who snuggled up to Toyota. Now you're not so smug about Toyota now, huh?

      What I'm saying is to please do not snuggle up to any corporation or government, they have bit, and they will continue to bite those who snuggle up to them. Trouble is, is that with government, everyone is forced to snuggle up with government.


      And also.. Even though Toyotas are not my cup of tea.. I wish Toyota well. There are a lot of good things the company has done(even with its sharp teeth and all). The US government should keep its hands off Toyota. Let Toyota sit out in the storm, things will run its natural course. I hope this company can survive this and I hope it teaches them to practice business more ethically in the future!
      • 4 Years Ago
      So... the news here is? Aren't we all pretty much on board with the idea Toyoda, who only very recently took over, is not responsible for the debacle that has befallen toyota?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Audi_arena

        I can't wait till you turn 55 then. Maybe we won't have to suffer your comments.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The news here is degradation of quality and safety at Toyota began when the Toyoda family lost effective control of decision making and that Akio Toyoda is potentially able to correct the situation for the long-term because he is family, which adds to his stature and therefore his ability to put quality/safety ahead of profit, as the family has always done. If Press is accurate this is very interesting information for anyone trying to asses the likelihood of Toyota once again achieving its old standards.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed with Zamafir. Toyota has made souless appliances for years, but I love Toyoda and what he's trying to do. I'll be very disappointed if people try heaping the blame on Toyoda, instead of his predecessors.
        • 4 Years Ago
        But I still don't mind hearing from him. No, he would not have said anything about it everything was rosey for Toyota. Why would he? That would make him look bitter and silly. So if all you can take from this is that he's piling on, then okay, I can see how that conclusion can be drawn. But I can take his words at face value that a company that up until now every one has said was the model of efficiency, safety and innovation and better then any other car company on the planet is most certainly not, and that a former CEO is a smart man and might know a lot about it.

        Its just a blog entry, not front page on the WSJ.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The news is a foremr high ranking guy who has pretty much kept his mouth shut, offers some insight into a company that has been shrouded in a lot of secrecy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes. And it was Toyoda that was critical of the fast expansion that he said, led to failures in quality control, when he accepted the position to take control of Toyota.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Audi_arena

        "What exactly is "anti-family", Mr. Press?? I mean, other than a phrase obviously designed to get conservatives panties in a twist, can you actually back this up?"

        He's talking about the company, the TOYOTA family... Take a deep breath.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What exactly is "anti-family", Mr. Press?? I mean, other than a phrase obviously designed to get conservatives panties in a twist, can you actually back this up? Also while you're at it, please name ONE SINGLE for-profit organization whose focus isn't first and foremost... profit. Uh....

        What a dolt. I swear almost anyone over the age of 55 these days should just be put out to pasture...

        • 4 Years Ago
        "But I can take his words at face value that a company that up until now every one has said was the model of efficiency, safety and innovation and better then any other car company on the planet is most certainly not, and that a former CEO is a smart man and might know a lot about it"

        gotcha :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wondered about Jim Press leaving his beloved employer, and now it makes sense why. I think taking the company away from it's founding family is the root cause of it's woes - financial motives alone DO NOT make good policy, and is one of the big failures of the free market. Short-term financial gains on products or services that are supposed to last many years leads to big problems as cost corners are cut. Capitalism is not all it's cut out to be, yet some will never be convinced. This is the reason we need a strong regulatory system: laissez faire economics is bad news. Witness: financial meltdown, healthcare, auto sector. How many examples do boneheaded libertarians need? How many people need to die? Lose their jobs? Get foreclosed upon? The madness has to stop!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Throwback: ". If the free market where at work GM and Chrysler for instance would have been allowed to fail."

        You would have a point if the Japanese gaovernment wasn't already meddling in the so-called free market, helping to damage American companies. The market isn't only limited to the U.S. any longer. Any actions taken by the U.S. to help our industries is only a counterpunch to what other countries already do.
        • 4 Years Ago
        luis you assume financial motives are ALL that's meant by free market. It's not, as can be seen by the companies that failed in the industries you mentioned. If the free market where at work GM and Chrysler for instance would have been allowed to fail.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think Toyota is pretty much a state run business, and that's why "financially oriented pirates" were put in charge. I believed Press when he said the government funded Prius development. I believe the car is being dumped on us (at a loss) to make it impossible for others to compete. That's why in comparison the Insight sucks and the Volt is so much more money. I believe Toyota is Japan's horse to dominate the auto industry. They pick a company in every sector and push it to win. Sony is/was their force in electronics and various Mitsubishi companies handle their military, space, banking and real estate. Remember in the 80's when everybody freaked out that Japan was buying up most of America? It was Mitsu who bought half the Rockefeller center in NYC. It is the Mitsubishi Bank of Tokyo that went on a spending spree in the last decade buying up banks to breifly become the world's largest. Press must have been very talented or highly regarded to get so high up in a company that is probably very xenophobic. I think he had more juice then Lentz who seems more of a fall guy or lackey to me.

        So now here we are with Toyota making this huge push to dominate the auto industry, become number 1 in our market and eventually put GM, (and the rest of the D3) out of business. And they almost succeeded if not for Bush and Obama deciding not to let them go. Now this scandal has put a big monkey wrench in the plan, and its going to take more then government funding to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Oh, obligatory down-rating in 3, 2, 1...
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you're not being your ususal fanboi self, you won't get downranked. Thanks for the fresh breath of reason in your comments.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep...

        The problem isn't anything inherent to capitalism, it most likely has more to do with the structure of compensation packages for executives. Executive bonuses are usually based on some short-term goal (market share, net income, etc.). If these pay packages could be adjusted to compensate executives for solid, long-term, growth I believe we would see many of the current problems we have go away.

        Any before you berate "laissez-faire" economics, why don't you go ahead and look at some of the root causes of the financial meltdown. The main cause was a government initiative to increase home ownership by allowing fannie mae and freddie mac to purchase mortgages issued with looser lending standards than in the past.

        Banks and lenders know what they're doing. They operated very successfully until the government incentivized reckless lending.

        If you don't like what you're hearing, go cry to the ISO. I'm sure they feel your pain.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Bill: Banks and lenders know what they're doing. They operated very successfully until the government incentivized reckless lending.

        Reckless lending was incentivized by the removal of regulation.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Luis,

        One of the big successes of the free market is the ability to be self-correcting. That's what you're seeing now with Toyota. And it's very enlightening to see that the alarm about Toyota's problem was not sounded by a government agency but by various internet sites and forums. NHTSA was either asleep at the switch or culpable in this mess.

        If captalisim and free markets are so anathema to you, why don't you move to Venezuela? I'm sure Chavez could use a like minded citizen such as yourself, and I hear that their economy is just going gangbusters after he nationalized so much of it. Oh wait...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Some nice words from Press, especially since he's a *former* employee. Very gracious. Now we see why he left Toyota for Chrysler; he saw where the company was headed, and he didn't want to be associated with it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yup, I sympathies with the guy, it’s hard to watch something you’ve worked so hard building be torn down by others, especially without the footing to do something about it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Jim Press actually did nothing to help customers in the ENGINE OIL SLUDGE debacle on his watch. He condoned blaming the vehicle owners as he was otherwise silent on the matter. His spokespersons, including Mike Michels and John Hanson, towed the line about Toyota owner maintenance neglect and they did not consider any other cause of this problem. Hmmmm, sounds like deja vu in the SUA matter, doesn't it?!? IF Toyota can blame the vehicle owner and get away with it, it certainly will!!

      Mr. Press would be wise to speak about the engine oil sludge matter as this is one that is far from over! He had a large role to play in how Toyota handled the matter and as Bruce C. Ertmann (then CEO of Customer Service) said, the industry was "watching how Toyota handled the matter."

      Are all eyes on Toyota once again? Does the other automakers think that the engine oil sludge matter is long forgotten? Whoops! Not so fast...

      http://www.toyotasludge.com
      http://www.toyotaoilgel.com
      http://www.uc2.blogspot.com

      Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution: Engine Oil Sludge
      • 4 Years Ago
      I salute him for his honor in this. And I agree with zamafir.
      • 4 Years Ago
      And I'll bet it wounds Press to see how humiliated Toyoda has been, going through this debacle.
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