I saw on a Morning Joe crawl this AM that Toyota reported a nearly 7% sales decline in the U.S. for last year, attributing it to a parts shortages out of Japan and Thailand due to the earthquake and tsunami and flooding. Could it be that the real catastrophe for Toyota was the combination of erosion of their own quality reputation due to the U.S. recalls earlier in the year, together with a resurgence of competitiveness by the U.S. auto industry, which reported double-digit gains for the year? Toyota is still a great auto company, but they are now playing on a much more level field in the U.S. than for many years. It’s not so much that their reputation has been eroded, at least not permanently, just as they will recover from the weather troubles in Asia. But the reputation of the U.S. auto industry for style, engineering and quality has been restored. My personal cars for almost 50 years were foreign built — now we drive two GM vehicles, and we love these cars.

Here’s the sales story: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/business/news/20120105p2g00m0bu075000c.html