Is Toyota unstoppable?

October 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Toyota Big T Is Back Despite Recalls, Earthquakes And Politics Can anything slow Toyota down? Only a couple of years ago, the Japanese giant seemed as vulnerable as a sumo wrestler with vertigo as it struggled to explain away a series of safety and quality snafus that forced it to recall an unprecedented 14 million vehicles worldwide. Then, just it was getting back on its feet, the maker was body-slammed by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that all but shut down the Japanese auto industry , leaving the industry giant struggling under severe inventory shortages for the rest of the year. Only a couple of years ago, the Japanese giant seemed as vulnerable as a sumo wrestler with vertigo. Yet, just like that sumo wrestler, Toyota has repeatedly shaken off the hardest hits. Despite somewhat mixed reviews , its Camry has continued to dominate the midsize passenger car segment – helping Toyota drive sales gains that have, in recent months, run triple the pace of the overall US automotive recovery. In fact, Toyota’s loyalty rate is once again setting the industry benchmark, according to a new study by Experian Automotive , something that suggests the recent sales surge is more than just pent-up demand as buyers catch up after the shortages of 2011. So, what to make of the unexpected move by Standard & Poors, the influential financial ratings agency, which this month downgraded the maker’s stock from a “Hold” to “Buy” rating? Now, to be sure, this was no panic move. S&P didn’t tell investors to dump Toyota and race somewhere else with their money.

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Big T Is Back Despite Recalls, Earthquakes And Politics

Can anything slow Toyota down? Only a couple of years ago, the Japanese giant seemed as vulnerable as a sumo wrestler with vertigo as it struggled to explain away a series of safety and quality snafus that forced it to recall an unprecedented 14 million vehicles worldwide. Then, just it was getting back on its feet, the maker was body-slammed by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that all but shut down the Japanese auto industry, leaving the industry giant struggling under severe inventory shortages for the rest of the year.

Only a couple of years ago, the Japanese giant seemed as vulnerable as a sumo wrestler with vertigo.

Yet, just like that sumo wrestler, Toyota has repeatedly shaken off the hardest hits. Despite somewhat mixed reviews, its Camry has continued to dominate the midsize passenger car segment – helping Toyota drive sales gains that have, in recent months, run triple the pace of the overall US automotive recovery.

In fact, Toyota’s loyalty rate is once again setting the industry benchmark, according to a new study by Experian Automotive, something that suggests the recent sales surge is more than just pent-up demand as buyers catch up after the shortages of 2011.

So, what to make of the unexpected move by Standard & Poors, the influential financial ratings agency, which this month downgraded the maker’s stock from a “Hold” to “Buy” rating? Now, to be sure, this was no panic move. S&P didn’t tell investors to dump Toyota and race somewhere else with their money. No one is expecting the sort of financial collapse that accompanied the descent into bankruptcy at General Motors and Chrysler during the latter half of the past decade. But for those who thought Toyota was, indeed invulnerable, the downgrade may be hard to reconcile.


Paul EisensteinPaul A. Eisenstein is Publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com and a 30-year veteran of the automotive beat. His editorials bring his unique perspective and deep understanding of the auto world to Autoblog readers on a regular basis.


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Is Toyota unstoppable? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Oct 2012 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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