Five decades after selling its first cars in America, Toyota still
feels the need to apologize for—or at least justify—its success.
Now, the company’s relentless expansion is bringing unwanted
attention. A series of recalls has hurt Toyota’s reputation for
quality. Environmentalists complain that the automaker’s move
into the big-truck market makes it look more and more like the
Big Three all the time. And James E. Press, who runs the North
American operations, acknowledges that Toyota is under greater
scrutiny now that it’s closing in on GM as the world’s No. 1
automaker. Yet among Toyota’s U.S. leaders, at least, there
is the feeling that the humility has gone far enough. During a
recent meeting at the North American headquarters in Torrance,
Calif., executives agreed Toyota should stop worrying about
being loved and learn to accept industry leadership.
Are you listening, Watanabe-san?
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