Monthly Archives: May 2014

What You Need to Know About the Toyota Recall

Toyota has recalled 6.4 million dollars  in vehicles, just over 500,000 vehicles in Canada alone.  This comes just weeks after agreeing to pay the largest criminal penalty ever by an automaker for hiding safety defects from the public.

The recall, which includes nearly 1.8 million vehicles in the United States, brings Toyota’s recall tally for 2014 to almost 2.9 million vehicles in the United States, well ahead of its pace from last year. General Motors faces a criminal investigation of its own over its decade-long failure to recall millions of cars to fix a defect that it has tied to 13 deaths.

The announcement, covering many models and years going back as far as 2006, is a sign of a more aggressive approach to recalls at Toyota, analysts said. Last month, the Justice Department ended a four-year investigation of the automaker, imposing a $1.2 billion criminal penalty after finding that the company concealed information about defects that caused sudden, unintended acceleration in several models.

“They’re making a very bold statement that they’re going to stay on top of those recalls, no matter what the impact,” said Alec Gutierrez, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, an automotive research firm. “Toyota took this opportunity to say ‘We are going to go through the list of all the known problems, and issue as many recalls as necessary.’ ”

Toyota said on Wednesday that it was not aware of any injuries or deaths related to either defect, nor was there any indication that American safety regulators had opened any investigations. Of the vehicles being recalled in the United States, Toyota said it would service 1.3 million to fix the air bag defect and 472,500 vehicles to fix their seats.  The question then becomes how will Toyota be able to rebuild its reputation after taking such a hard hit this quarter?

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Toyota Moves HeadQuarters to North America

  Toyota has decided to jump ship and move its headquarters much like Nissan did in 2006, but will they encounter the same problems? Sources inside Toyota say they already dissected Nissan North America’s move and were particularly dismayed to see that their Japanese rival lost roughly 60 percent of its 1,300 Los Angeles headquarters staffers and executives when it relocated to Nashville.

Toyota concedes that some personnel loss is unavoidable. Corporate relocation consultants say Nissan’s loss rate was not unusual. Atlas Van Lines, which surveys corporations on the topic every year, reported last year that the average relocation saw 54 percent of employees decline to move, and that number has decreased slightly in recent years  But Nissan, along with one former executive who made the 2006 move, counters that the trainwreck scenario critics at the time predicted for Nissan proved to be wrong.

 “I came to Nashville with only two of my product planners,” recalls Larry Dominique, who relocated with Nissan North America as vice president of product planning but returned to California in 2011 to become executive vice president of TrueCar.  Seven of his department’s top nine vehicle planners opted not to stay with Nissan.  Dominique himself had been promoted to the top spot after his own boss, Jack Collins, took the relocation as an opportunity to retire. Twelve high-level executives opted to leave Nissan, including Jed Connelly the senior vice president of sales and marketing at the time.

“People said we’d never be able to recruit the new talent we needed to replace everyone,” Dominique recalls of his product-planning team. “And that did take some work. But we did it. We assembled a great staff.”

The primary reason for why  Nissan lost a large portion of their employees may not have been because of the move.  It comes down to why they wanted to move, they were looking to cut cost.  Toyota on the other hand is not looking to cut cost but rather fix a cultural problem within the organization.  This is why their move should go smoother and allow them to maintain the majority of their top employees.

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Are Used Car Parts Becoming Cheaper?

With the summer weather just around the corner, many are ready to start working on their cars that have been stored away in the garage for most of winter.  But should you wait to buy that used part you have been looking for all winter?

Experts like NADA Used Car Guide ana­lyst Larry Dixon and Black Book’s Ricky Beggs see price declines, with much of it com­ing from sea­sonal pat­terns – and from what hap­pens his­tor­i­cally when used car prices sky­rocket to abnor­mal lev­els. Now, they’re com­ing down to get back in line, Dixon said.

As April closes, Dixon expects eight-year-old and newer vehi­cles will see a 2% price drop from March lev­els – and that should fall another 3% in May. It does tend to hap­pen – “When see [the prices] rise dra­mat­i­cally, they tend to fall dra­mat­i­cally,” he said. “We’ve seen this cycle before.”

Beggs saw that used-vehicle prices remained strong in April, but Black Book research has been indi­cat­ing that by mid-April, deal­ers were bid­ding less aggres­sively. Mid-size and com­pact cars took the biggest hit. Pickup trucks are retain­ing their value and that should con­tinue with all the demand com­ing from hous­ing and construction.  With less aggressive bidding means prices should begin to fall, keep a eye out for great deals in the coming weeks.

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How Mark Fields Raced up the Ladder to Become the New CEO of Ford

Even with his Harvard degree, many people doubted Mark Fields, who was named Thursday to succeed Alan Mulally as chief executive of Ford Motor.

For years, people both inside and outside the automaker wondered whether the fast-rising executive, with his Harvard MBA and tailored suits, wasn’t just a slick operator punching his ticket on the way up the management ladder.

Now that he has reached the top rung, Fields has earned the job. He is more seasoned, less arrogant, and he is ready to lead in the post-Mulally era.

Even Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. acknowledged as much Thursday at a press conference describing the board’s pick for CEO. “Every job Mark’s done he’s done very well,” said Ford, noting the tough assignments over the years, which included fixing Mazda, turning around Ford’s European business and perhaps most importantly, restoring profits in North America during a historic economic downturn. “Mark grew and rose to every challenge, and he became a battle-tested executive through it all. Even some of his early doubters and detractors came around with great respect for the job he did,” Ford said.

“You learn from your experiences,” the 53-year-old Fields told me in an interview. “I spend a lot of time on self-reflection. Sometimes it’s hard, you know. Someone says something, and you’re like, ‘That’s not me!’ So you can discard it, or your can reflect on it, and think, ‘How can I be a better leader?’”  Although Fields has yet to prove himself as a CEO the work he has done since joining Ford has proven that he has want it takes to be a great leader.

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