The problems of General Motors and Toyota

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

20 March 2014

The lesson of auto malfunctions? Keep them secret.

I wrote about General Motors recalls last week and, wouldn’t you know it, Toyota is now in the news for settling a suit for stuck accelerator pedals for almost $1.2 billion. Toyota said it was wrong to withhold information.

Well, this sounds strangely similar to General Motors now doesn’t it? It appears that GM also withheld information concerning its faulty ignitions. I wonder if it will suffer a similar fate as Toyota?

“It is the fear that something can go wrong if a manufacturer sticks its neck out. This fear must be so pervasive in the hallowed halls of the manufacturers that none of them are willing to actually promise something meaningful to the consumer or tell the truth.”

Toyota was not bailed out by the government as GM was. Remember, GM was gladly taking bailout money while it was allegedly lying to the government about the faulty ignitions. I guess if the US eventually fines General Motors for this mess, we can just bail them out again, right?

General MotorsThis is what is fundamentally wrong with the automotive industry. And no, it is not that the government will bail the automakers out. It isn’t even the problems of General Motors and Toyota themselves. It is the fear that something can go wrong if a manufacturer sticks its neck out. This fear must be so pervasive in the hallowed halls of the manufacturers that none of them are willing to actually promise something meaningful to the consumer or tell the truth.

As history has demonstrated, as long as they fly just below the radar and look like all of their competitors then no matter what happens, they may get a little black eye for only a little while.

That attitude even reaches into their brands. A manufacturer would steal market share if it had some real stones and unequivocally promised something that was truly different and unique and actually lived up to it proactively. As it is now, the manufacturers are just comfortable to let the normal churn of the market go on. It’s time that a manufacturer makes them all uncomfortable.

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