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Bill Radke: For the first time in nearly a quarter century, American drivers gave top grades to American cars over imports. J.D. Power and Associates just released its influential consumer survey on initial quality. Toyota used to dominate that, in terms of individual brands. This year, U.S. companies came out ahead of the Japanese carmaker. In fact, Toyota’s ranked behind several brands that usually score low — Mercury, Buick. Reporter Mary Ann Maskery has more.
Mary Ann Maskery: The Toyota brand, after all its troubles with recalls, plunged to 21st place, well below the industry average. Mike Maroone is COO for Auto Nation, Toyota’s biggest customer. He says the intensity of the media spotlight was a shock, but Toyota has worked hard to fix mistakes.
Mike Maroone: The actual repair to the vehicles is relatively simple. The repair to the brand probably is a little bit of a longer-term task, and I think they’ll use this as a time of introspection and come out of it being a stronger company.
Yesterday’s quality ratings will make that tougher. Dave Power is founder of J.D. Power and Associates. He says Toyota can still succeed in the U.S., but they won’t dominate the market like they did for much of the last decade. Why? There’s more parity now among automakers.
Dave Power: I think the days of one company having the stronger image that we saw with Toyota, or Mercedes, or BMW, I think those days are over.
His advice for Toyota: Get on with it. Fight for the share that’s out there.
I’m Mary Ann Maskery for Marketplace.
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