Toyota without a small car? Accidents can't happen? A week's news, indeed, can be stranger than fiction. Some comments:
A MATTER OF MONEY: Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. has discovered another pot of gold. The company will curtail imports of the Tercel and Paseo, and may drop them after 1999. Replacing the slow-selling small cars will be imports of the high-profit Camry, which is the best-selling car in the United States. A brilliant scheme! Profits will soar; more Camry intenders will be accommodated, and the U.S. Congress cannot complain that Toyota of Japan is exceeding its export limit - the additional Camrys (perhaps 60,000 a year) will simply replace the Tercels and Paseos.
NO MORE 'ACCIDENTS': By decree of honcho Dr. Ricardo Martinez, the word 'accident' has been expunged from the language at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
We wonder about the 41,500 people killed on U.S. highways last year. In NHTSA parlance, were they, perhaps, killed intentionally?
ANOTHER BLACK EYE FOR HONDA: The bribery scandal at American Honda just won't go away. Now there are allegations that dealers who are suing Honda can't get extra allocations of cars, and may run into trouble at franchise-renewal time. The bribery and corruption in the Honda sales organization were reprehensible. It is just as reprehensible to punish dealers who are suing to redress wrongs they feel they suffered as a result of the bribery and corruption. Maybe Honda didn't shake all the bad apples out of the tree.
WHO'S IN CHARGE OF RETAIL?: There's nothing new about factories and dealers clawing at each other's throats, but current confrontations at General Motors and Ford Motor Co. seem especially bitter.
Many Ford dealers don't buy the company's plan to take over the markets in Indianapolis, Salt Lake City and other unnamed spots by buying out all the dealers there. It's an interesting - but risky - concept. The dealers point out that retailing is their ball ground, and that earlier factory forays into retailing have failed.
A number of influential GM dealers are ticked off at Vice President Ron Zarrella. The dealers protest the loss of the carryover allowance with nothing to replace it and Zarrella's alleged statement that his job is to please shareholders, not dealers. That's undoubtedly true - but if he said it, it was a pretty dumb remark to make at a dealer meeting.
The factories have tons of research that shows people don't like to deal with dealers. Therefore, dealers are bad, and 'we gotta fix 'em.' The dealers' message to the makers on retailing is concise: 'Stay off my turf.'