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12 February 2010 | PR 10/16

Loughborough automotive specialist says Toyota’s troubles may have silver lining

Professor Jim Saker

Professor Jim Saker

An influential Loughborough University professor with 20 years’ experience in the automotive industry has outlined how Toyota’s recent mass recall of cars could turn out well for the Japanese manufacturer.

Professor Jim Saker is the Director of Loughborough University Business School’s Centre for Automotive Management and is Ford Industrial Chair of Retail Management. From 2004 to 2006 he was placed in the Automotive Industry Power 100, a listing of the top most influential people in the sector, and he is a member of the UK Government’s Leadership and Management Panel.

According to Professor Saker car recalls are not new, but the scale of Toyota’s, matched with their reputation for quality and reliability, has made their unfortunate situation headline news.

The company, which has UK manufacturing plants in Derbyshire and North Wales employing over 4,000 people, has recalled seven models at risk of a recently identified ‘accelerator pedal issue’.

“Due to the drive for manufacturing and purchasing efficiencies, a large part of Toyota’s range had the same faulty part fitted. As opposed to having a single product recalled, this has turned out to have impact across the range,” explained Professor Saker.

“Toyota has built its reputation on the quality and reliability of its vehicles and this type of problem inevitably becomes newsworthy as a result.

“The growth of the internet means that news travels far quicker. In the past companies have had a time lag where faults have been identified and recalls have started before it became more widely known. The internet has produced a transparency that means companies are exposed to news about product faults being communicated globally in seconds.”

Professor Saker believes Toyota’s reputation rests on their imminent action, but says if handled well the recall could in fact bolster belief in and commitment to the brand. 

“Research shows that the next few months will be pivotal,” he added. “The findings of many studies show that having a ‘service failure’ can in some circumstances be beneficial, or at least not as disastrous as was first thought.

“Over the next few months Toyota dealers will have thousands of their customers visit them. How that interaction or ‘service recovery’ is handled can actually mean that in the end the customers will be more loyal. 

“Examples are often quoted in the hotel industry where service is poor and the establishment goes out of its way to put things right. As a result the customer ends up more satisfied and with a better relationship with the organisation than it would have done without the initial problem. 

“The challenge will be how this process is handled, if it is done well there maybe a silver lining in the long run.”

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T :01509 228686
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

  1. Professor Saker is available for interviews and comments on the recent Toyota recalls.  Please contact: Loughborough University Senior PR officer Amanda Overend on 01509 228686 or a.j.overend@lboro.ac.uk for more information.

  2. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines

    It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2009 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

    It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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