We heard last week that runaway acceleration in Toyota’s vehicles was not due to faulty electronics. The joint report from the National Highway Traffic Safety and the National Aeronautics and Space Agency helped to clear Toyota’s name, stating that any unintended acceleration was caused by faulty floormats or sticking accelerated pedals – both of which Toyota recalled vehicles for – or by driver error, not due to any electrical error.
The official report from NHTSA and NASA is helping to boost consumer confidence for the Toyota brand. Within two days of the announcement, marketing firm YouGov/BrandIndex, which tracks public opinions on major brands, saw the Japanese automaker outpace the rest of its sector in increased positive brand perception. According to Ted Marzilli of YouGov/BrandIndex,
“The public has responded positively, but the bad news is that the initial recalls are still taking away from the more positive news. While the recent investigations may be good news for Toyota, the damage has not been erased.”
Marzilli feels that the change in sentiment toward Toyota is slowing getting better, but will take at least another six months to be near to where it was a year ago. YouGov/BrandIndex also noted in its study that Toyota’s reputation comes directly from the NASA announcement, as it did not advertise during the Super Bowl, a common place for brands to improve their images.
Despite the NASA findings, Toyota still faces class-action lawsuits regarding the aftermath of the unintended acceleration experienced by owners, and its reputation is not back up to the record high that it was at in 2009. The National Academy of Science is also working on its own report regarding Toyota’s acceleration issues and the Center for Auto Safety points out that the NHTSA/NASA investigation may be inconclusive, as parts of the report claim that electronic failure was not completely ruled out.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)