“Reputation” (#1410)

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Friday, 3/12 @ 12:00pm ET

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Don Esmond, Senior VP Automotive Operations, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Topic: Toyota's Reputation.

Have you ever noticed the way pop culture treats a "good" reputation? We all want one but it hardly seems to get talked about. Take '80s music for instance where both Joan Jett & the Blackhearts along with college favorites the dBs both scored hits with their separate (and totally different) songs entitled "Bad Reputation." Now we all may want good to triumph over evil but is there anyone out there humming the tune "Good Reputation?" It almost harkens back to the simple journalism barometer of a dog biting a man. Of course that's not news. But switch the incisors around and suddenly you've got readers, viewers and P.E.T.A. probably jumping all over the man biting dog story.

That's sort of the situation Toyota finds itself in today. It spent decades building a rock solid reputation for its vehicle on the foundation of quality, care and customer service which it has seen start to crumble in a mere six months. Now that isn't to say there aren't some problems with the cars, in fact problems the company might've and should've caught earlier. But at this point the question becomes what happens to that reputation. It was once sterling and now it's teetering over a pool of muck. How does Toyota reclaim what it once had?

On this week's Special Edition of Autoline Detroit John McElroy sits down with longtime Toyota executive Don Esmond. Mr. Esmond has been out talking directly to the dealer body about their vehicles along with the problems they're facing in Washington, Tokyo and with that heretofore loyal customer base. He talks candidly about mistakes that were made, lessons learned and getting that "good" reputation back.