I’m surprised that Jim Press, about to be elected to Toyota’s board, would be so blunt:
“Mr. Press — who has said his job is to be ‘the face of Toyota’ and explain the company’s policies and practices to ensure it is treated fairly — said the currency market is out of Toyota’s control. He pointed out that the company ‘worked hard to make a profit’ when the yen reached its historic high in the mid-1990s, which made Japanese exports more expensive. He also said that Detroit is looking for a foreign villain.”
The Detroit Three (and some U.S. politicians, including the UAW) are focusing on the external excuses rather than the internal problems. It’s not that external problems don’t exist, but you hear FAR more talk about them than you do the need to quickly bring the right products to market, etc.
Fairly quickly Mr. Press will have to address complaints raised by American car companies and the United Auto Workers that Japanese auto makers are taking advantage of a weak yen to goose sales and profits in the U.S. Politicians from manufacturing states have protested that the weak yen allows Japanese auto makers to add features without increasing prices substantially. The Big Three auto makers, all of which have undergone restructurings that have cost thousands of jobs and run up huge financial losses, can’t match that.
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