Company scrambles to repair recalled vehicles and its public image
By Brendan Moore
Toyota Motor Corp. stated to reporters earlier today that it has already started shipping parts to their dealers that will be used to repair faulty accelerator pedals in their cars that are affected by the massive recall of last week.
The company, reeling from the safety recall, and a suspension of production and sales in many parts of the world, also offered assurances to their customers and the press that they are on top of the situation and are doing everything possible to fix the safety issue.
Toyota said that many dealerships in the United States intend to staff their service departments 24/7 over the next month in order to implement the fix on affected vehicles as quickly as possible for customers.
Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota’s U.S. sales arm, stated this morning on a television news show, “We deeply regret the concern that our recalls have caused for our customers and we are doing everything we can – as fast as we can – to make things right. Stopping production is never an easy decision, but we are 100% confident it was the right decision. We know what’s causing the sticking accelerator pedals, and we know what we have to do to fix it. We also know it is most important to fix this problem in the cars on the road.”
Some Peugeots and Citroens made in a joint plant with Toyotas to be recalled immediately in Europe as a result of unintended acceleration concerns, stemming from the use of the same accelerators as Toyota
By Brendan Moore
The massive global Toyota recall regarding faulty accelerators is not merely affecting the Toyota nameplate; it has also taken down some PSA/Peugeot-Citroen vehicles.
PSA announced that it would immediately recall almost 100,000 vehicles in Europe as those cars are made at a plant in the Czech Republic that it shares with Toyota, and therefore those cars use the same accelerator pedal suppliers as Toyota.
A PSA spokesman stated Saturday, “We are going to do the same thing as Toyota. We are going to do a recall.”
The Peugeot 107 and the Citroen C1 minicars made between launch in 2005 and August 2009 will be the subject of the recall, said PSA. PSA and Toyota produce cars jointly at the plant in Kolin, Czech Republic. Toyota produces the Aygo minicar, a popular car in Europe, at the plant.
By Brendan Moore
THINK, the Norwegian EV automobile maker, has put together a list of cities in the US that are ready for EVs, and, furthermore, has ranked those cites in terms of their relative openness to EV automobiles, as well as their level of potential gain in terms of positive consequences.
Whew. Got all that?
If you recall, THINK announced plans recently to refit a shuttered RV factory in Elkhart, Indiana in order to produce the THINK City electric car there, which also required the genesis of THINK North America. The $43.5 million production site will have eventual capacity of 20,000 vehicles annually. Production is scheduled to launch in 2011 and the plant will employ up to 400 people by 2013, according to THINK executives.
It is probably accurate to describe the small EV company as “plucky”. The people at THINK believe in their business model and believe that some Americans are ready for a new kind of everyday car, and by golly, they’re going to do their level best to make that happen. The small company is unabashedly interested in doing well by doing good.
By Chris Haak
We’ve already published several articles on the topic, but Toyota’s massive recall and its related public-relations debacle continues to gain momentum. In addition to the stop-sale that we reported on several days ago, many entities are now taking the recall a step further. Perhaps this is out of genuine concern for the welfare of Toyota drivers, perhaps it is out of concern of being sued if something happened before the affected vehicle was fixed. My sometimes-jaded viewpoint says that it’s the latter, but perhaps it’s the former, or a combination of the two.
Today, several different entities reacted similarly to Toyota’s recall:
By Chris Haak
Proving that its multi-year turnaround plan has clearly taken root, Ford Motor Company reported final 2009 net income of $2.7 billion, including a gain of $868 million for the fourth quarter of 2009. These numbers compare favorably, obviously, to the $14.8 billion loss for 2008 and the $5.9 billion loss for Q4 2008.
Furthermore, Ford CFO Lewis Booth raised the company’s earnings projections for 2010 and 2011. During the middle of 2009, Ford had forecast that it would be “break-even or better” in 2011, and three months ago, raised the 2011 forecast to “solidly profitable.” Now, Booth is forecasting a profitable 2010 as well.
Ford ended 2009 with with $25.5 billion in automotive gross cash and $34.3 billion in automotive debt. The debt load is reduced from prior-year levels thanks to debt restructuring that Ford tackled during 2009, but about double the level that GM has after GM’s “quick rinse” bankruptcy. In comments to reporters, Booth noted that Ford’s balance sheet still needs more work, but he is obviously very much aware of the situation that it puts Ford in relative to its competitors with relatively clean balance sheets.
By Dennis Haak
Sometimes, it’s nice to take a step back from talk of bankruptcies, recalls, CO2 emissions, Cash for Clunkers, and the new-car market generally, and reconsider a simpler era. Specifically, I’m talking about GM’s Advanced Design pickup trucks, which the company produced between the 1947 and 1955 model years. For reasons I’ll get into in a moment, these trucks have a special place in my heart.
The Advanced Design pickups were GM’s first all-new vehicles of the Post-World War II period. Following the resumption of passenger car production, the Big Three ( the independents, several of whom were still in business at the time) basically trotted out 1946 model year cars and trucks that were eerily similar to their 1942 pre-war versions.
The Italian automaker sold almost 750,000 vehicles in Brazil last year, a 12.6% gain from 2008’s numbers. Fiat’s sales in Italy grew only .5% to 722,000 units.
Fiat is the No. 1 auto manufacturer in Brazil, as it has been for the last eight years in a row, with VW and GM snapping at its heels in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots respectively.
Fenabrave, the national dealership association of Brazil, says that Brazil’s car and light commercial vehicle sales jumped 12.7% to a record of more than 3 million combined in 2009. Showing roughly equal increases by category, passenger-car sales in the country increased 12.6% to 2.52 million units as light commercial vehicle sales climbed 12.3% to 489,900 units.
Brazilian auto sales in 2009 were spurred by ever-increasing demand from Brazil’s rapidly-growing middle class, a good national economy compared to other parts of the world, and, importantly, federal tax cuts on the sale of new vehicles.
By Kevin Miller
Toyota has announced today that they are halting sales of some vehicle models that are involved in the automaker’s recent recall for sticking accelerator pedals. Only Toyota branded vehicles are involved; no Lexus and Scion vehicles are affected. Models involved include the RAV4, Corolla, Matrix, Avalon, Camry (non-hybrid), Highlander, Tundra, and Sequoia. Retailers have been instructed that involved vehicles are not to be sold. This will undoubtedly have an effect on both consumer confidence and Toyota’s January sales numbers.
The halt in sales is also causing a halt in production at several of the automaker’s US plants that produce those models. Plants in Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, and Canada will be affected by the shutdown.
Toyota’s press release speaks for itself; the full text is available below the jump.
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