CHIOTAKIS: Toyota doesn’t do a very good job of incorporating customer feedback into its cars. That’s according to a panel the company set up last year after a long bout of safety recalls. It’s been a tumultuous time for Toyota, and perhaps an opportunity for American car companies to make head-roads in Japan.
Hans Greimel is Asia Editor for Automotive News. He’s with us now from Tokyo. Hi Hans.
HANS GREIMEL: Hello.
CHIOTAKIS: Tell us about this U.S. government report and what it says about Toyota.
GREIMEL: It’s a rather in depth look at Toyota and it’s taken after, of course, Toyota’s big quality lapses especially in 2010. And I think it points out a lot of steps that Toyota has made to improve on some of the problems that it had. But it also says that there’s still room for improvement going forward.
CHIOTAKIS: It looks like Hans, Ford is trying to take advantage of Toyota’s weakness though. I saw that the Ford Japan chief said he wants to sell more cars in the Japanese market. How unusual is that?
GREIMEL: I think that Ford and the other American brands in Japan always want to sell more cars here. But they’re starting from such a low percentage of the market that any improvement is going to have a very small impact. In January alone this year, Toyota sold more imports in Japan. In other words, Toyota brought in more cars from outside Japan than sold them in Japan. And Ford, Cadillac, Jeep, Chevrolet and Chrysler all combined. So the imports here really make up a small section of the market. So is there an opportunity to sell more cars in Japan? Yes. Will it have a big impact even if it has an increase in sales? Probably not.
CHIOTAKIS: Hans Greimel, Asia editor for Automotive News with us from Tokyo. Hans, thanks.
GREIMEL: Thank you.