Toyota's Loss is U.S. Carmakers' Gain

Ford Fusion
File - Unsold 2009 Fusion sedans sit at a Ford dealership in the southeast Denver suburb of Centennial, Colo., in this Dec. 7, 2008 file photo. The 2009 Ford Fusion's bumper rating slipped to "poor" from "marginal" in 2007, with the average cost of repair reaching $2,207. Nolan said the car's weaker bumper beams had a big impact on performance. None of the six most-popular midsize sedans earned a top rating in bumper safety in the latest crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Toyota is facing yet another recall of popular vehicle over safety issues. This time, it's Toyota Corollas - one of the company's best-selling models - that can have dangerous problems with the power steering system at high speeds. And that's on top of 8.5 million other cars and trucks that have already been recalled for sometimes-deadly issues.

But while Toyota dealers have been working around the clock to repair the recalled cars, the competition has been busy as well - ringing up sales, as CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes reports.

Domestic auto dealers across the country say Toyota's loss has been their gain.

"Since it's been announced, every day has been good here on the lot," said Dave Vorcheimer of Maplecrest Ford in Union, N.J.

In Sun Prairie, Wisc., auto dealer A.J. Stark talked up the "extra incentives out there for people who want to take advantage of the situation."

And in Des Moines, Iowa, Scott Politte of Stivers Ford said simply, "It's been a great opportunity for Ford."

How great? Ford's January sales were up 25 percent from last year. GM's sales rose 14 percent and Nissan sales were up 16 percent year-over-year.

Toyota plunged nearly 16 percent.

Chrysler is offering a $1,000 incentive to owners who trade in certain recalled Toyota models for new Chryslers, Dodges or Jeeps. GM, Hyundai, and Ford have similar $1,000 deals.

"It's a wide open field for brands to capture new customers," said Ford executive vice president Mark Fields.

Crisis management expert Gene Grabowski says Toyota's early communication strategy didn't help.

"I think there was a concern for secrecy and privacy and I think that was probably as much of a cultural difference between Japan and the U.S. and North America as anything else," he said.

Toyota's new strategy, he says, is a step in the right direction.

"In recent days, our company hasn't been living up to the standards that you've come to expect from us," the company said in a television ad that first aired during the Super Bowl.

So how long will it take Toyota to recover from this?

"Sometimes companies with the resources of a Toyota can turn things around and bounce back in six months to a year," Grabowski said. "Sometimes even a little less."

But for now, Toyota's problems are a welcome boost for U.S. carmakers who've just been through their own corporate crises.

  • Nancy Cordes
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' chief White House correspondent.