How Might Kids Perceive Toyota Now?

The repairs at Toyota dealerships continue as the news of the recall and the sheer number of Toyotas on the road are an ever present reminder that the company has a problem.  Talk about a Catch-22.

When Toyota eventually gets to the downward slope of it’s Everest-sized speed bump, what will it do to repair its broken reputation, not only for consumers of driving age, but those who are simply passengers in their cars? Considering a conversation I had with my daughter this weekend, Toyota better start planning its long march back now.

Kate, who’s getting close to 10, was sitting in the back seat of our 12-year-old Subaru Outback, returning with me from a trip to the movies when she said this:

“Why does Toyota lie?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, wanting to present a balanced picture of Toyota’s response to the crisis; the incidents and number of recalls that occur with all car makers; and intricacies involved in replicating engineering and mechanical failures, “Toyota didn’t necessarily lie.  The problem with its cars is a bit complicated.”

“Why is it complicated?” she pressed.  “If Toyota knew its cars had a problem why didn’t they try to fix it sooner?”

Wow.  Kate is no news junkie by any stretch, but she is an avid reader.  Maybe I should re-up my subscription to the Chicago Tribune.

“It’s like those commercials,” she continued.  “Some offer deals to get people to buy their cars, but the other commercials where people are talking about how happy they are with their cars seem fake.”

‘Well, honey, I think Toyota will be fine,” I responded.  “People will continue to buy their cars.”

To that, Kate said flatly:  “Those people are chumps.”