In 2004 something that General Motors never thought would happen, did. Toyota Motor Corporation overtook them as the largest automaker, globally.
This was huge. Toyota had been working tirelessly to become number one and it finally happened. The built trust in the 80's which began to lead into stronger sales in the 90's, and by 2000 there was not much holding them back.
With the launch of Prius in the U.S. in 2001, the world began to see a different kind of company that was poised to take position of world leader. They did and have since been building and empire that has had every major vehicle car maker in the world wanting to be like them.
I can tell there are questions that some of you want answered. How is this relevant to Prius? Why are we even comparing GM and Toyota? Who cares, the workers are starving! These and all other questions, I hope can be answered as I explain why GM needs to take a serious internal look at their horrible business model.
Why Toyota Is Better Than GM
The Japanese automaker is a company that looks to help others. Toyota has had multiple partnerships with GM in order to help teach them some of the tactics that are used to help make them better. Toyota worked with GM to help them in their manufacturing processes, when building cars such as the Pontiac Vibe, and Geo Metro.
Toyota tried to help them understand the need for continuous improvement or, Kaizen. Toyota also taught principles such as "just in time" management practices that would have saved GM millions, had they kept moving forward with these practices in place.
Simply put, GM has always seen themselves as leaders that need nothing other than to keep doing what they are doing. The sad part is, when what you are doing is no longer working, your system is broken.
Toyota is better because they care about the end user of the product. They care about how long the cars will be on the road. They design and engineer any, except one model, to last a minimum of 15 years. The Toyota Land Cruiser is designed to last a minimum of 25.
GM knew that a good business model is selling cars. This dates clear back into the 1920's when GM started rivaling Ford Motor Company for sales against the model T. GM knew that if they could have yearly model updates, they could sell more cars. That business model worked, initially, and for quite a long time, until it didn't.
Today more Toyota cars, like the Prius are dominating the roads, and lasting well into the 3 to 400,000 mile mark or more. You can pretty much be guaranteed a used Toyota will also have a better resale value and be far less troublesome, than a GM competitor.
Simply stated, they are just better built vehicles, even with all the stuff we see these days as far as recalls, I would still drive a 100,000 mile used Toyota than a 25,000 mile GM car.
Toyota Is A Forward Thinking Company
If I could describe Toyota in one word it would for sure be, Prius. I think this is the biggest kick in the pants that Toyota could give GM, and here is why.
We are talking about a red blooded, all proud American car company that makes money on selling large volumes of large cars, with large engines for large Americans. The drive to stay forward thinking and considering what the future of the industry could look like, was simple for them. Make their cars bigger, faster and stronger. Who cares what it gets for fuel economy, if you have enough to buy one, you can afford to take care of it.
This type of thinking is deadly toxic, and it was not until the recession in 2009 that GM had to take a hard look and think about what sustainability looked like. GM had to think of how to compete with the Prius, and it was not until they were forced to do so, that the Volt really took form.
Toyota on the other hand has been thinking of how to better the world since 1992, back when Mirai and Prius were initially dreamt of. Toyota knew back then what GM failed to see, and that was where we were headed in the automotive industry.
Toyota is now at it again. Solar on Prius has become a rather hot topic lately even getting some serious ridicule from the famed Elon Musk. I applaud Elon on so many levels for doing all he has done for this industry, but there is one thing that he does not see that is really important. Toyota will not make a move unless they have a reason to believe it is a technology worth investing in.
GM is going to continue to struggle. The greed of the CEO and laying off hard working Americans is putting them in a ripe state for failure. This time, there may not be a bailout.
Thanks for reading, check out tomorrows story where I talk about Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Generators charing your Prius Prime or Tesla S, X and 3.
If you have not seen it yet jump over and read why Carista is the best $20 tool for your Toyota Prius.
Check out my other article out where https://www.torquenews.com/8113/3-reasons-toyota-should-bring-back-prius-v-awd-e.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Adjunct Instructor of automotive technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter.