I honestly don't know if this could ultimately end up as an across-the-board problem, ttemple. On Monday, we'll tell you about some of the testimony in the most recent trial, and the software-related issues that were involved.
Yes, it's funny how people's perception affects brands and the success of them so much. You could have the best, most reliable product ever, but if people don't trust your brand, it doesn't matter. We must remember people--people with opinions and emotions--drive markets.
I think you've nailed it, Liz. It's a matter of comfort. Many Americans don't worry about whether a carmaker in based in the U.S. today. But back in the '80s, there was still some distrust of foreign cars, even with a brand of Audi's reputation.
That's interesting, Chuck. I wonder why it affected Audi and not Toyota. Maybe because the perception of the Toyota brand in the U.S. is more stable, and the cars generally are more affordable. Audi is better known (even if it's not an entirely fair perception) as a luxury or "foreign" brand, I think. Yes, Toyota is foreign as well, but people seem to be more comfortable with the brand. I guess time will tell if Toyota will be affected in the future.
You're right, Liz. The attention hasn't hurt Toyota in a significant way yet. In fact, Toyota has kept doing quite well in Consumer Reports' annual reliability studies. For Audi, however, it was different. U.S. sales of Audis dropped from 75,000 annually to 10,000 annually in the late '80s. The brand name was badly damaged.
In 1979 I bought a Ford Fiesta. The car was so small (how small was it) that I had to take my shoes off to drive it because my left shoe covered the brake and clutch. Also true, once I left a gas station and couldn't remember if I had put the gas cap back on. I rolled down the window and reached around to the back of the car with my left hand, openen up the filler door and verified that the cap was on.
@Thinking_J: In some cars it is possible to hit both pedals at once. I know as I have two Ford products in which I can and have accidently pushed the accelerator down when I was braking. My first instinct is to push harder on the brake which in turn further depresses the gas pedal. The first time it happened I was at a loss for what was going on, but when I realized I just slid my foot over and the problem was gone. This has occured in both my Ranger and Expedition and now that i know this I am extra careful. Seriously, I have big feet and quite often wear boots. My wife has never had this happen to her, but she has little feet. Is it operator error? Of course and I have to watch what I am doing, but it is possible to hit them both at once.
You're right, Pubudu, about how this sort of thing affects a brand. But Toyota's brand is so strong I'm unsure if this would have a major effect, unless the problem really drags on. And I am not sure how many people except perhaps Toyota owners would know about it. I personally wouldn't know about this issue if I wasn't a reader of and writer for Design News. While I'm sure there is a fair bit of public attention about it, many people may not be aware of it. But you're right, prolonged negative attention and impact like this can sink even a strong brand.
Design engineers need to prepare for a future in which their electronic products will use not just one or two, but possibly many user interfaces that involve touch, vision, gestures, and even eye movements.
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