Thursday, November 08, 2007

More Roosting Chickens

I'll admit I didn't see this one coming. On Tuesday Consumer Reports announced that they won't automatically recommend Toyota vehicles without reliability data on the specific design, after 2 Toyota models (the Camry V6 and the Tundra 4 wheel drive V8 pickup) were rated "below average" in predicted reliability. (The Camry??)

In the same report, 3 Ford models (the Ford Fusion, the Mercury Milan and the F-150 V6 pickup) made the "most reliable" list.

Ford is more reliable than Toyota? The world is coming to an end.

Well, Toyota's world may be, and in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, we may have an explanation. A former quality control inspector at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA, a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors, is suing both firms on the grounds that they retaliated against her when she reported multiple defects on "thousands of vehicles" coming off the line. According to the suit, eight years ago managers began altering her defect reports to lower the Daily Defect Per Vehicle numbers.

The interesting point here is that the NUMMI plant doesn't make the vehicles Consumer Reports just downgraded. It makes Toyota Tacomas and Corollas, and Pontiac Vibes. Might be interesting to check the Consumer Reports reliability ratings on the last 5 years or so of those models.

Toyota's market position has been based for years on draconian quality control. Looks like Draco has been laterally arabesqued....


  1. "laterally arabesqued"


  2. Anonymous3:05 PM

    Ya gotta love this lady's way with words, don't 'cha?
    Anonymous David

  3. Surely you two recognize the quote?? I didn't originate the phrase "lateral arabesque"...

  4. Anonymous10:15 PM

    It's from the Peter Principle, isn't it?

  5. Anonymous6:05 AM

    First go some of the brain cells. No, it didn't trigger any memory wrinkles. Doesn't lessen your way with words, even if you were the conduit, not the originator, hedera.

    Note: siobhan just checked in over on FA.

  6. Well, you may not have read the book. Ilex is right, it's from the Peter Principle, which I read years ago when I was working in Corporate America. The "lateral arabesque" is a maneuver used by management to sideline a manager who has been promoted to his level of incompetence (and is therefore interfering with the ability to get stuff done); he's given a fancy title, often a fancy office, and the responsibility for "special projects" which have no relation to the actual work of the organization... I've seen it used a few times; usually within a year or so the person gets the idea and leaves the firm.

    Yes, I saw siobhan check in - for some reason Fanny is sitting on what I thought was an entirely inoffensive post....

  7. Anonymous11:23 PM

    No, I never actually read the book, just kept hearing and reading various references. Lateral arabesque captures that phenomenon so succinctly and elegantly.

    Anonymous David