Toyota Crisis Management 

Toyota is the world’s leading automobile-manufacturing Japanese multinational company. The automotive brand experienced a series of problems and crises relevant to its vehicles during the period from the 2000s to 2012. They comprised of unintended speed acceleration, resulting in the form of fatal road accidents and injuries. Today, we’ll discuss Toyota crisis management; crisis events, the strategic approach of the automobile brand, and the response to Toyota crisis communication. 

A series of crisis events attracted significant negative media attention and posed serious questions and concerns about quality control processes and safety measures of the automobile brand. It negatively impacted the sale of Toyota’s popular automobile models like Prius, Corolla, and Camry. However, Toyota and its regulatory department conducted a thorough investigation to diagnose the root cause of the problem; and it reported the following problems; 

  • Flawed design of the accelerator pedal assembly 
  • Improves the risk of the pedal becoming stuck in the partially depressed position 
  • The electronic throttle control system contributes 

Crisis Events to Toyota

Some of the main events of crises in the Toyota crisis management are as follows; 

  • 2000s: many drivers reported the unintended speed acceleration of Toyota vehicles, and it became out of control causing incidents and accidents among many people 
  • 2009, August: Toyota Lexus ES 350 had a tragic accident due to uncontrollable high speed causing the lives of four people; attracted significant media attention
  • 2009, September: NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Authority) launched an investigation and found out that floor mat entrapment may be the possible cause 
  • 2009Noveber: Toyota recalled 4.2 million vehicles to fix the floor mat entrapment issue
  • 2010, January: additionally recalled 2.3 million vehicles to study over-sticking accelerator pedal 
  • 2010, February: stopped the sale of eight models due to the pedal accelerator problem 
  • 2011: dozens of lawsuits filed against the company to vehicle-related accidents, injuries, and deaths 
  • 2012: Toyota took various quality control and safety measures to manage the sudden acceleration problem 

Response to Toyota Crisis Communication 

Let’s discuss the response of the automobile brand in Toyota crisis communication and Toyota crisis management as follows; 

Underestimating the Crisis 

Toyota underestimated the sudden acceleration of the high-speed problem and considered it to be a mechanical problem and the errors of the driver. The automotive brand kept repeating their statement that their vehicles were safe; accidents and incidents are random events and they don’t explain the problems in the vehicles. 

Limited Transparency 

Toyota received a lot of criticism from the general public and the media for withholding the information and not disclosing the safety-related risk information to the public. The lack of transparency further increased the suspicion of media and people about the company’s non-committed behavior towards public safety. 

Delayed Response

The response of Toyota towards the sudden acceleration and high speed problem was very late and they considered it the negligence of the automobile brand. Many marketing experts analyzed that the company should have responded proactively and investigated the problem before the escalation of the whole crisis situation.

Unwilling to Accept Problems 

Toyota rejected the idea of having a problem in their vehicles that was causing sudden acceleration of speed. The brand was reluctant to acknowledge the inherent problem in their vehicles and take responsibility for it. However, it jeopardized the company’s relationship with the customers and the media. 

Jeopardizing Customers Trust

The consistent denial and dismissal of sudden acceleration inherent problems in the vehicles negatively impacted the trust and confidence of customers. When more reports and incidents of sudden acceleration started emerging, then customers started questioning the integrity of the company and were not interested in public safety. However, it tarnished the company’s reputation to a great extent. 

Strategic Approach to Toyota Crisis Management 

Some of the main strategic measures that the automobile brand took in Toyota crisis communication and Toyota crisis management are as follows; 

Acknowledging the Problem 

The reports of the total number of incidents and sudden acceleration increased to a certain limit, and the investigation also reached a conclusion. Finally, Toyota acknowledges the sudden acceleration problem as an inherent problem in the vehicle. Acknowledging and accepting the problem was a difficult step and it led the company to take immediate action. 

Apologizing & Taking Responsibility 

The president of Toyota issued a public apology to the public and the customers for the safety issues their vehicles have caused. The company showed its commitment to resolving the sudden acceleration problem. It meant that the company was willing to take accountability and responsibility for its actions. 

Coordinating with NHTSA

Toyota fully coordinated and cooperated with the government investigating agencies and NHTSA during the sudden speed acceleration investigation process. It showed that the company had a strong commitment to address the concerns and questions of authorities and customers. 

Independent Investigation 

In order to ensure full transparency and unbiased analysis of the report, Toyota conducted an investigation into the problem outside of the company’s engineers and experts. The investigation panel comprised various industry engineers and experts; they analyzed the quality control measures, safety protocols, and manufacturing processes. 

Repair & Recall 

In order to resolve the unintended speed acceleration problem, Toyota launched a massive vehicle recall. Along with the recall, the company also launched a massive repair problem to improve the safety features and measures of the vehicles. It showed the company’s strong commitment to resolving the problem and giving top priority to public safety. 

Internal Evaluation 

In order to improve the company’s existing internal production and manufacturing processes; Toyota launched an internal evaluation program. It allowed the company to recognize the weak areas and make improvements to avoid the occurrence of such incidents happening again. 

Conclusion: Toyota Crisis Communication | Strategic Crisis Management Case Study of Toyota

After an in-depth study of the Toyota crisis management; we have realized that Toyota is the world’s leading automobile manufacturing brand. If you are learning about Toyota crisis communication strategy; then you should keep in mind the abovementioned crisis events; strategic approach, and communication strategy of the automobile brand. 

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