Congratulations to Toyota, practical response for the cessation of sales

January 27, 2010

toyota-logoToyota’s decision to cease sales of affected new and used vehicles is a brilliant and responsible action.  It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that Audi set itself back two decades by mishandling a similar issue.  Although the initial reports about Toyota’s decision are shocking the airwaves and reflect negatively on the product, I believe that this will be short-term.  I predict that consumers and consumer advocates will praise Toyota for its rapid and responsible move.  In fact, in time I think that this temporary cessation will become the standard of response for future problems affecting other manufacturers. 

I’ve already received many questions from dealers about what to do with their Toyota used car inventory in light of the problem.  I think that this is truly a rare exception when the clock should stop on aging.  This is simply a condition that can not be resolved without some time.  For those dealers that age their inventory on systems like vAuto and others, I recommend that the clock be reset on affected vehicles as soon as the problem on that particular vehicle is resolved.  This could be done by changing the lot date in the dealership DMS.  Simply add the number of days that it took to repair the problem to the DMS “in-stock lot” date.

In the short term, I think it’s possible that values on these vehicles will fall.  I would not panic, nor would I hesitate to purchase such vehicles.  Again, I don’t think that this problem will be a long-term game changer for Toyota.  In fact, it may ultimately prove to be beneficial.  In other words, there may be a good opportunity for savvy wholesale buying.  I realize that this goes against my general advice for dealers not to be speculators, but rather retailers. I think that there is a rare opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade.

I would appreciate the thoughts and responses of others on this most interesting issue.