Don’t confuse Toyota for GM

It’s easy in times like these to ask if Toyota has peaked, to compare the Japanese automaker’s status to General
Motor’s dominance in the U.S. in the ’50 and ‘60s and its subsequent decline.

But that would
be a mistake, says Bruce Belzowski, an auto analyst at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute.

Unlike GM in its glory days, Toyota is fighting several strong competitors in a global economy, Belzowski reminds.
Thus Toyota can’t afford to grow complacent and take its eye off the ball.

Toyota is back in the news again
this week with another embarrassing recall. This time it’s over faulty gas pedals. Just weeks ago, the federal government
began investigating complaints of rust in frames of its Tundra pickup trucks.

Toyota, which supports thousands
of automotive jobs through its assembly plant in the southwestern Indiana town of Princeton, is dealing with two overarching
problems. One is sluggish sales caused by the global economic downturn. The other is a string of once-uncharacteristic recalls,
the result of its quick expansion over the past decade into a global powerhouse.

The sales downturn will go away
as the economy recovers, Belzowski predicts. And Toyota is bearing down on the quality problems by asking fundamental questions
about its internal processes.

Belzowski believes global competition has become so intense that in a given five-year
period, Toyota or any one of a handful of other companies could rise to dominance. In other words, the future can still belong
to Toyota.

What do you think? Has Toyota peaked, or will it rise to a long period of dominance? Have the recalls
given you pause about buying its vehicles?

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