: American Toyota
owners are understandably alarmed about ballooning recalls over faulty gas
pedals and floor mats. In Japan
the automaker's home market, where there have been no such recalls, the
reaction is — also understandably — muted.
Some of the same Toyota Motor Corp. models
recalled in the U.S.
are on Japanese roads. But they use a different parts supplier than CTS Corp.,
the American parts-maker which has been rushing to fix the faulty parts behind
the massive recalls.
Dealers in the U.S.
are being deluged with queries
from worried customers. For dealers in Japan
, it's basically business as
"Some of our customers express
sympathy about Toyota
overseas problems," Naeko Kawamata, a saleswoman at a Tokyo Toyota dealer,
said Saturday. "But we aren't getting queries on recalls."
So far, Toyota
reputation for quality is holding up in Japan
. One factor in Toyota
's favor is that
Japanese often assume that Japan-made products are better than those made
abroad — meaning that their Toyotas are safe.
"I think Toyota
cars are very reliable," said Takashi Itoh, a photographer whose family
members drive Toyota
"The cars being recalled in China
and the U.S.
aren't made in Japan
They were made there. Those kind of problems definitely won't happen in Japan
Some Japanese experts are optimistic the
fallout from the U.S.
will fade in a few months — as long as Toyota
responds relatively quickly to fix the problem.
They see Toyota
troubles as having crept up because the automaker expanded too quickly over the
last several years, making it difficult to duplicate the "Toyota Way
known for impeccable quality controls, in places that are quite different from Japan
appears to be trying to respond with care," said Hideaki Miyajima, a
professor of business and economics at Tokyo
's Waseda University
has grown to where it is now by sticking to safety standards. If it can
overcome this problem, it can even make the experience a plus for its
Overnight, President Akio Toyoda apologized
for the worries the recalls caused Toyota
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
he told Japanese public broadcaster NHK, "I am very sorry that we are
making our customers feel concerned."
"People can feel safe driving in the
current situation," he added. "Please trust that we are responding so
it will be even safer."
said it began shipping gas-pedal parts to its dealers Friday for
use in fixing the millions of cars and trucks recalled because of accelerators
that could become stuck.
Company spokesman Brian Lyons said he did not
know when the parts would arrive or how long it would take the automaker to
complete repairs on the 4.2 million vehicles worldwide covered by the recall.
He said details of the fix will be announced next week.
After accounting for earlier recalls for floor
mats and some vehicles being recalled more than once, the global recall amounts
to more than 7 million vehicles, a staggering number.
Hidekai Homma, a Toyota
official in Tokyo
, said media reports giving
that number as the equivalent of Toyota
annual vehicle sales are providing an exaggerated picture of the problem.
"We don't welcome this kind of
thinking at all," he told The Associated Press. "No matter what, we
believe we have responded speedily to a problem that has come up."
Consumer Reports, an influential U.S.
publication, has suspended its
"recommended" status for the eight recalled models, dealing another
blow to the Japanese automaker's reputation in the U.S.
stopped selling the eight U.S.
models, including the
top-selling Camry, on Tuesday. It also announced that it will stop building
them in the U.S.
until the problem is fixed.
First Published: Saturday, January 30, 2010, 19:20