Blog: Dave LeggettIs Toyota 'doing an Audi' in the US?

Dave Leggett | 28 January 2010

The problems Toyota is having with alleged 'unintended acceleration' related to mechanics – as opposed to the floor mat problem - in the US sound reminiscent of what some may recall as a similar problem for Audi in the 1980s. Except that Audi's 'similar problem' back then – exposed on an influential US TV programme called '60 minutes' – turned out not to be a mechanical problem. The TV programme had misled (it turned out to be driver error connected with the positioning of the pedals), but such was the hullabaloo, that Audi sales in the US subsequently collapsed and took a decade to recover.

The difference this time with Toyota may be that there is actually a mechanical fault with sticky accelerator pedals. The publicity will be a big worry for the company, but at least it is now acting. And if a car company addresses the issue openly, quickly and sorts it out, doesn't that actually improve its image? Can it be turned around into a positive, public relations disaster avoided? Maybe, but Toyota's hitherto squeaky clean  reputation for industry-leading quality – a massive selling point for the brand - is taking a dent.

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