In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the chief financial officer of Honda, Japan's number two automaker (and the sixth largest in the world), said that Toyota's massive recall because of sudden-acceleration problems may have wider implications for the auto industry.
(AP / file)
"I think we should see this Toyota problem from a broader viewpoint," Yoichi Hojo told WSJ's Yoshio Takahashi and Mariko Sanchanta. "If customers start to harbor doubts about [quality and safety], that would be problem for the whole industry."
Toyota's troubles "won't necessarily be a positive," he said.
Yet Hojo also reiterated that Honda would not specifically target disaffected Toyota customers in its marketing, unlike efforts taken by U.S. carmakers. [General Motors, for example, . Ford similarly is offering incentives for Toyota AND Honda owners.]
Are Toyota Woes an Opening for GM, Ford? (CBS Evening News, 2.03.10)
Honda has said it will continue to offer sales incentives to all customers, not just Toyota owners. But it will, Hojo notes, try to increase its share of U.S. sales, to draw down on its increasing inventory.
As Detroit's Big Three try to regain market share from Toyota's troubles, the difficulties posed by the recall have also raised other industry-wide issues, such as insinuations that U.S. officials (including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) have failed to adequately pursue questions of auto safety, or that Washington has cozier relations with Honda's bailed-out competitors.
Honda's U.S. sales last year were 1.15 million vehicles, according to Hojo, and the company expects to boost that number to 1.23 million this year.
But that's still off the 1.6 million it has rolled out in the past. And in fact they are looking elsewhere, such as India, where the automaker will launch a low-cost car (priced about $10,700) in 2011.
For more of this story go to Honda Finance Chief Warns of Toyota Fallout (WSJ, 2.08.10, subscription required)