It could be a hurtling freight train, runaway boulder or kids screaming their heads off on a roller coaster. Or… it could be a Toyota. Look out!
Turns out that the Prius you bought to save the environment? Apparently it’s a speeding death trap, along with several other models of Toyota which have been experiencing sticky accelerator pedals and brakes that are broke. But other than stopping and starting, the cars are working just fine!
Plus look on the bright side: The Prius’ hybrid electric engine is contributing to a carbon-free cemetery. And should the car ever explode into a clean-burning fireball, think of all the money you’ll save on cremation!
Of course, the Toyota Corporation wants you to know they are really, really, really sorry. (Really.)
I know how bad I feel whenever I eat the last appetizer on a hors d’oeuvre tray or forget to return a book (and I’m guessing slamming millions of your most loyal customers repeatedly into brick walls must feel way worse; for the drivers, too).
To date, the faulty accelerator pedals and malfunctioning brakes have caused more than 20 deaths and triggered global recalls of more than 8 million Toyota automobiles.
Car buyers are leaving Toyotas in droves. Some consumers are even so desperate that they’re considering buying—gasp!—American cars.
For the record, I own two Toyotas including a pickup truck with more than 230,000 miles on the odometer, which, knock on wood, has yet to malfunction and try and kill me. I’d like to say everything is still running properly because I take good care of my truck, but my idea of vehicle maintenance is using the gas station squeegee to scratch the bird poop off of the hood.
And the next time I buy a vehicle? It’ll probably be another Toyota, especially since right now the company is offering zero-percent financing and two years free maintenance. Heck, if you’re really nice they might even throw in a shiatsu massage.
Toyota is desperate to restore consumer confidence and its stock price is taking it in the shorts, so they’re going to do whatever it takes to win you back:
“You want bigger cup holders for your 7-Eleven blueberry Slurpee? Done!”
“You want windows that automatically tint on the passenger side whenever you sneak into the carpool lane? Done!”
“Instead of ‘Toyota,’ you think it would be funny if we actually changed our company’s official name to ‘Toy Yoda?’ Hmm, let me think about it . . . Will you upgrade to the sunroof/moon roof/luxury package? You will? Done!”
Now and for the next few months there has never been a better time to buy a Toyota. It’s like finding a $20,000 car in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.
Am I worried about my next Toyota’s brakes failing and my car putting a gaping drive-through in a high school? Not really. And here’s why: I hated high school. But more importantly, we’re always on our best behavior right after we get caught.
Think about it. Safest time to fly? Right after a plane crash.
Safest time to eat at a restaurant? Right after it’s been reopened after health code violations.
Safest time to hang out with a convicted felon? Right after he gets out of prison. OK, wait, so maybe I got a little carried away with that last one.
But the point is Toyota is going to be checking and re-checking every brake pad and accelerator pedal coming off the assembly line faster than you can say “Yugo.”
Tylenol, Jack in the Box, even Coca-Cola—some of our nation’s most popular brands have gone through times when consumer confidence started to waiver. Toyota has been making safe, reliable, cheap cars since the 1930s, and just like the Tylenol cyanide recall of the 1980s, Toyota will get through this eventually.
But in the meantime, try and take Toyota for all they’ve got. I mean it. Because when the economy was good, you had to stand in line and beg to buy a Prius like it was a pair of tickets to Nickelback.
Just show up to a Toyota dealership and kick the first car salesman you see in the groin. He’ll probably give you $500 cash back.
Contact Jeff Girod at email@example.com.