After working to get the parent company to sign off on a captive finance company, Toyota Motor Credit Corp. encountered resistance in getting Wall Street to agree on the credit rating of the new entity.
A top AAA rating would improve lending rates, and had symbolic significance for Toyota. Longtime Toyota Motor Credit executive Wolfgang Jahn, 68, recalls the chain of events:
"Anything but a AAA rating was out of the question. It was just not acceptable.
"We were meeting one of the rating agencies, and it was a typical Toyota event. Rather than make formal presentations initially, we wanted to just get to know them. They flatly told us there was no way Toyota would ever get a AAA rating because we don't have any manufacturing facilities in this country. So I took the rating agency people to Japan and met with all the top people there.
"Even though our executives were as frank as I ever would hear, they still wouldn't tell the whole story of what our plans were. So one of the rating agencies would not give us a AAA rating. So we just made do with the other one of the agencies giving us a AAA rating. It took three or four years before the other rating agency came around, too."