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Toyota May Shift More Camry Production from Japan to U.S.

American plant would serve as export base to Korea.

by on Oct.05, 2011

Toyota is likely to shift more Camry production out of Japan to the U.S.

Plagued by a strong yen that is making it increasingly difficult to produce cars in the home market, Japanese giant Toyota Motor Co. may shift production of more of its popular Camry sedans to the U.S.

Toyota plants in North America already provide the majority of the vehicles the maker sells in the U.S. and Canada, notably including the 25-year-old Camry factory in Georgetown, Kentucky.  But, according to the Nikkei business daily, such a move – not yet confirmed by Toyota – would be used to supply the Camry to South Korean Toyota dealers.

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Japanese makers, in general, have been struggling to deal with production at home with exchange rates slashing their profitability.  Makers like Toyota had, until recently, been hoping the yen would stabilize at or just above 80 to the dollar, but in recent weeks it has soared to a record high of 75.94.

That is making it increasingly unprofitable to ship vehicles not only to the States but to other countries that tend to peg their own currencies to the American dollar.


Toyota’s Reluctant Prince, Akio Toyoda

Will CEO and family heir survive his rendezvous with destiny?

by on Feb.24, 2010

The 53-year-old Akio Toyoda's future may depend on his performance before Congress.

He’s known, in Japan, as “the Prince,” groomed from childhood to take control of the family business, but whether Toyota President Akio Toyoda can rise to the occasion, or will be felled by indecision, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, could come clear on the floor of a Capitol Hill committee room later today.

One thing is certain: the man who charged into his post, last year, under the mantle of reform, now faces a far more serious task than he or his backers could have ever imagined when he was formally anointed CEO of the world’s largest automaker.

Toyoda’s appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will cap two days of contentious hearings meant to examine an ongoing safety scandal touched off, last October, when Toyota reluctantly agreed to recall 3.8 million cars, trucks and crossovers to handle concerns that those vehicles might race out of control unexpectedly.

Since then, there have  been a spate of additional recalls, bringing the vehicle total to more than 8 million, while still more Toyota products are targets of ongoing safety inquiries.  Meanwhile, investigations that could lead to possible criminal charges against Toyota and its management team have just gotten underway.

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“It’s time for decisive leadership,” said analyst Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting, but the 53-year-old Toyoda initially seemed reluctant to step into the worsening safety scandal.

Toyoda was nowhere to be seen when a second recall for unintended acceleration – this one to repair potentially sticky accelerator pedals – was launched on January 21.

A Japanese TV crew eventually found him at the annual conference of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, where he issued a quick apology before jumping into an Audi driving him away from the event.


Editorial: Leaked Toyota Documents Raise Questions About Safety Regulators as Well

Toyota calls NHTSA limited recall a “win,” but did the federal auto "safety” agency actually abandon safety?

by on Feb.22, 2010

Newly leaked documents could be troublesome for Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda during this week's Capitol Hill hearings, but are U.S. safety regulators just as much to blame?

With Toyota slated to be the target of a high-profile hearing on Capitol Hill, tomorrow, Congressional insiders leaked a damaging internal document showing the automaker celebrating a “win” after convincing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to limit the size of a recall due to unintended acceleration problems.

But Toyota is not the only entity in trouble – if you take a more reasoned, non-sound bite look.

A classic Washington blame game is now emerging as the three major – and entirely self-interested – parties vie for advantage in the run-up to the well-publicized Congressional hearings.

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Toyota, NHTSA and politicians running for reelection (in the face of fierce voter resentment of incumbents, partisan politics and pay for play “public servants”) are under scrutiny. And what is emerging is a sordid tale involving all in our view.

You’ll find the full story after the break.

(There’s been a long-running battle between automakers and government regulators, as contributing editor Mike Davis, a one-time Ford PR executive recalls in this special report for Click Here for that story.)

(With Toyota officials now facing what could become a criminal investigation, could some company executives have a visit to “Club Fed” in their future? Click Here for the full story.)


Toyota CEO Toyoda to Speak Out on Wednesday

Still no decision on whether CEO will appear before Congress.

by on Feb.15, 2010

After being hammered in the press for his low visibility, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda will make his third appearance in two weeks to address the company's safety problems.

After taking some hits for his relatively low profile as Toyota became mired in a series of safety scandals, the automaker’s CEO, Akio Toyoda, has scheduled his third meeting with the media in barely two weeks; but the grandson of the giant Japanese automaker has yet to confirm whether he will appear before a U.S. Congressional hearing looking into Toyota’s ongoing recall problems.

In a terse invitation, Toyota said the company’s president and CEO would address “its approach to quality,” as well as deliver an update on the embarrassing recall of its third-generation 2010 Prius hybrid, which it belatedly acknowledged suffers from braking issues.  It is not known whether Toyoda will also address reports – which first appeared on, earlier this month – that the second-generation Prius, sold from 2005 through 2009, may also have isues with its complex braking system.

In recent days, the automaker has stepped up a campaign aimed at calming worried owners and assuaging potential customers that quality and safety issues are being adequately addressed.  In an interview with, last week, Bob Carter, head of the Toyota division, asserted that the company has done everything short of hitting its vehicles “with lightning bolts” to validate its claims that faulty electronic controls are not responsible for claims of so-called “unintended acceleration.”

More than 8 million Toyota vehicles have been recalled worldwide, since last October, due to problems that can result in the vehicle surging out of control.  The initial recall target floor mats that can entrap the accelerator pedal.  A second action, announced in January, is aimed at fixing potentially sticky accelerator pedals.

Despite Toyota’s assurances that it has isolated the causes of unintended acceleration, Toyota attorney Theodore Hester sent a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee – which will hold a hearing on Toyota’s problems, on February 24 – pledging the automaker will be “re-examing these complaints” and will conduct “exhaustive and robust” testing.

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Along with the unintended acceleration problems, Toyota recalled 440,000 Prius sedans, this month, acknowledging that “overly-aggressive ABS” systems can cause the 2010 model’s brakes to briefly and inadvertently release if a vehicle strikes a bump or icy patch during braking.

But in his interview, last week, Toyota Group Vice President Carter revealed that since news of the Prius problems began to surface, there has been a nearly five-fold increase in complaints alleging similar problems with hybrids built in prior years.  Carter described that as a “head-scratcher,” adding that Toyota engineers have yet to identify a problem with the second-generation Prius.