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No crisis for Toyota dealers after over 3 million vehicles recalled

Max_Graph_121812On Wednesday, October 10, 2012 Toyota recalled 2.5 million vehicles in the United States because of faulty power windows that are a fire risk. Among the models recalled include almost a million Camrys, over 330,000 RAV4’s and just under 300,000 Corollas. Then on November 14, Toyota recalled 670,000 Prius hybrids in the U.S. with steering issues. If over 3 million Toyotas recalled doesn’t sound substantial, consider this, Lincoln only sold about 85,000 vehicles in 2011 and Suzuki hasn’t sold more than 100,000 vehicles since 2007.

The average used car shopper spends over 11 hours online conducting research and comparing various makes and models. Therefore, it would seem likely car shoppers would stray from Toyota vehicles considering the recall could turn their Camry/Camry Hybrid/Sequoia/Corolla/Matrix/Scion Xa/ Scion xD/Highlander/Highlander Hybrid/RAV4/Yaris windows into a roman candle. Even scarier for Toyota, Google search trends reveal a 350% increase in the search term “toyota recall 2012” and a 250% increase in the search term “toyota prius recall.” Nonetheless, there is no data to support Toyota’s massive recalls is causing less vehicle views. A study of used car shopping trends on Mojo Motors from before and after the October 10 and November 14 recall announcements show no negative affect. In fact, Toyota listing views have actually increased since November 14.

The real question now is why haven’t Toyota vehicle views been affected? The answer is loyalty. In an odd coincidence, the very same day Toyota announced the recall in Octover, Experian Automotive published their quarterly Loyalty and Market Trend analysis which ranked Toyota at the top of corporate loyalty. This means someone who buys a Toyota will be more likely to buy a Toyota, Lexus or Scion over any other make. Barring the accelerator pedal recall crisis from a couple of years ago, Toyota is known for reliability. Their strong resale values probably doesn’t hurt either.

Therefore, Toyota has a strong brand image to weather a storm like faulty power windows that cause a “smoky smell.” And brand image matters, just look at Buick. Years upon years of lackluster and boring vehicles still curse a brand that is by all accounts building General Motors’ best cars in decades. Buick’s brand image is slowly shifting, but talk to someone outside of the car business and they immediately think of moth balls, walkers and early bird specials. Ask someone about Toyota and they probably think reliability and great gas mileage.

So fear not pre-owned dealers, you have nothing to worry about, your used Toyotas should continue selling just fine.

Sources: (Lincoln Sales)

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