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July 06, 2021

Has Toyota's safety troubles made you think worse of the car maker?

As has often been the case with this great recession, news has once again surfaced that will test the public’s faith in a heavyweight automaker.

Of course, this is nothing new, as you know. General Motors alone has faced every test a corporation could since 2008: slumping sales, brand kill-offs and bankruptcy, followed by its recent clawing and pleading to get back into positive consumer faith.

But if you asked many if what happened to GM – a North American company long skewered for shoddy manufacturing and brutal mismanagement – was a total surprise, you’d probably be told no. Toyota, though? Toyota’s downfall is little more intriguing.

The latest hiccup in Toyota’s nightmare 2009-10 has come in the form of yet another recall; this time, 270,000 of the automaker’s vehicles worldwide were called back for having potentially faulty engines.

According to the Associated Press, the engines – many of which were Lexus sedans – were known to stall while the car was in motion.

A recall of no more than 300,000 automobiles doesn’t much register with Toyota’s recent history, but it does speak volumes for a company doing everything it can to repair its image.

You no doubt remember the Japan-based manufacturer’s recent recall of 8.5 million cars over the past 10 months, a fiasco where the accelerator pedals got stuck on many Toyota vehicles, leading to runaway vehicles that were linked to as many as 18 deaths in North America.

For its late response time to the fatal error, the car maker was slapped with $16.4 million in fines by the U.S. government, a record for such penalties.

It was for this massive vehicular tragedy that Toyota has been treading in dangerous water, and it is because of the manufacturer’s latest recall that it may not reach shore anytime soon.

BrandIndex, an organization that measures the public perception of companies, has noted Toyota’s spectacular slump over the last three months, a dip that bests even the freefalls of BP and Goldman Sachs, according to their numbers.

And the car maker’s plummeting sales suggests that such a reputation is still there, but how long will it last?

Has Toyota’s recent safety troubles made you think worse of the 73-year-old manufacturer?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...