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Buyer's Guide

Feb. 1, 2010


Jim Lentz, president of Toyota's embattled U.S. sales operation, hit the "Today" show and YouTube this morning as the carmaker endures a continuing crisis sparked by faulty accelerators.

The Today appearance is the beginning of a PR blitz for the company, which saw its stock plummet and is being blasted by the media, car owners and Congress for its rocky response (the latest recall is the second concerning the accelerator problem) to the crisis.

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Lentz called Toyota cars "safe" and said he doesn't think the company has moved too slowly in the effort, although he noted Toyota has "been investigating this for a long time." He announced that the 2.3M cars affected by the recall will be fitted with a reinforcement bar and another five million cars will get new pedals.

The interview came on the same day the New York Times featured an article on its front page headlined "Toyota's Slow Awakening to a Deadly Problem."

Lentz also appears in this direct appeal to consumers posted by the company on YouTube:

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Joe Honick, GMA International (2/01):
It is always fascinating to hear folks like Matt act like prosecuting attorneys instead of just tough reporters. Lentz did as well as could be expected, mostly because he did not dodge being interrogated. Lauer's quote of unnamed crisis management commentators was mischief. Certainly Toyota deserved to be strongly queried, but what we have heard from GM and Ford telling Toyota owners to trade in their vehicles for safety reasons will come back to haunt both GM and Ford when the first similar accident occurs with their cars.

Chicago PR Guy (2/01):
Too little, too late. Incredible how these guys have squandered decades of goodwill and a quality reputation in a matter of months. Perhaps they had enough goodwill built up, but it sure took a massive hit.

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