Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekend musing on Toyota

My first car in the US was a (used) Toyota Camry that I kept for nearly a decade before selling it on eBay. Not surprising, since Japanese cars – especially Toyotas and Hondas, to some extent Nissans and Suzukis – are/were the perennial favorite of new immigrants, especially Asians. Given the recent recalls over Steering, Brakes, floor mats, electronics and the Mea culpa by management, it is still hard not to feel nostalgic about Toyota. A few eclectic thoughts on the car and company:

• Regardless of the recent recalls, the company still makes some of the best automobiles in the world
• Yes, even one accident caused by malfunction is one too many. As it turns other auto manufacturers’ are also signaling problems with their electronics, gears and the like.
• Toyota is multinational, with a global footprint and supply chain, including dozens of manufacturing plants in North America.
• While the company will recover from the recent fiasco, how it does, and where it goes is a topic the business press is going to watch very closely; and so will business-school professors writing case studies and legions of B-school students looking to learn from the live case study being played out
• And speaking of modern automobiles and our dependence on them for commute and transportation asking how reliable can/should the automobiles be is not even a philosophical question. But I guess automation of automobiles is a topic the technologist and Software Architect in me is pondering over. This is a topic I have had endless debates with peers and clients about: the cost of quality.

Where does the recent Toyota fiasco leave cost-conscious global immigrants moving to the west, looking for reliable ‘wheels’ that will hold value for years? Would my next car be a Toyota? Wish I had a looking glass…

Ps: On the human side, a nice post by Basab Pradhan (My Son and Asperger’s Syndrome)