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Thursday, March 15, 2007


Apologies for the sports analogy, but can you imagine, I mean, can you IMAGINE Peyton Manning getting to the Superbowl a few weeks back and saying something like this: "We are certainly concerned. We have just been doing our job naturally, and the numbers merely came about as a result. We have never said the Colts wants to be No. 1, and we do not give such orders to our employees."

My firm belief is that you can't imagine it. You can't fathom the possibility. You refuse to visualize the interview.

Replace two words with just one word, and you have a collection of quotes from Hiroshi Okuda. Peyton Manning of the Colts never said that stuff, but Toyota Motor Corp's Okuda actually did.

But don't blame him! Toyota has to dominate without acting like a dominator. They must make money while acting like they don't have enough cash reserves to buy General Motors and Ford outright. Toyota must needs go the way of feigned humility into near self-degradation.

Ridiculous, I know. The reasons centre on the views of the American people. At this time Toyota is more than welcome to take some odd 15% of the American market. About half the cars Toyota sells in the States are imported. You can figure out where the other half come from, and that second half gives Billy Joe in Normal, Illinois a right good down deep feeling about the Japanese powerhouse.

Toyota is quickly on the verge of displacing one very American fixture as numero uno on the list of the planet's automotive producers. GM, in the midst of what seems like a successful turnaround, can't compete with the vast reach of Toyota's multitudinous marketing angles.

"California, get rid of your smog with a Prius."

"Aspen, you folks need an all-wheel drive Lexus to battle those snowy driveways."

"Europe, y'all want some funk in your small cars... so check it. Aygo."

"Canadian males. Look at this, eh. Forget completely that Ford used to show you trucks all Saturday night and see the beauty of a real man's truck. All Saturday evening."

On one hand, Toyota gives you environmental awareness. On the other, monstrous hi-po pickup trucks and a bunch of 7-passenger SUV's. On another hand, although the third hand is generally hard to find, is some performance. No MR2 or Celica, but a 268bhp RAV4? Apparently each replacement model gains 100 horses. A fourth hand shows you the ultimate in serene luxury with Lexus and the progenitor of the youth-mobiles at Scion. There are fifth and sixth and seventh hands kickin' around somewhere.

All of this goes on and Toyota has to act like they don't wanna sell more cars than anybody else. They offer a massive range of automobiles and must manifest themselves as unselfish. Because, after all, nobody goes into business wanting to make money..... or, umm, wait a second.

Toyota is terrified of an American backlash when, not if, they become #1. OK, I'll give them that. But last I checked, it's not simply immigrants to the USA that are buying the Camry. Upon last survey, there were Toyota dealerships in the middle of Kansas selling cars to a middle-American on a middle-income with a mid-size family. Something makes me wonder from where, or how, this massive backlash will hit Toyota.

Billy Joe buys a Camry for his wife. Billy Joe buys a Tacoma for work. Toyota becomes the biggest carmaker in the world. Billy Joe sells both his Toyotas?

Oh, and did you hear? Coca-Cola is now urging all carbonated beverage drinkers to switch to Pepsi. And Microsoft is really terrified of the whole 'running the world' thing, so they want us all to have an iPod and an iMac. No Zunes, no Vista.

Whatever. I understand Toyota's plight, and their fear of the unknown. I won't understand if a backlash really does occur.

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