Since Japan's bubble burst in 1989, its economy has stagnated, and the world no longer feels threatened by the Japanese juggernaut. Nevertheless, many Japanese management principles still make sense.
It's suffered massive recalls and a valuable yen, but Toyota is still selling strong. The company Friday reported a second-quarter profit that more than quadrupled to $1.2 billion on sales of $59.5 billion.
When Toyota Motor reports quarterly earnings tomorrow it will give investors the latest snapshot of how big a toll massive recalls and tepid auto sales are taking on the company's bottom line.
Toyota Motor is once again defending itself against claims that it sought to cover up vehicle defects after it reportedly bought back cars that accelerated unintentionally but failed to disclose the problem to federal safety officials.
In Asia Friday Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.5% to 9,427 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid 0.6% to 23,518. In China the Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.3% to end the day at 2,975.
Toyota Motor is issuing another recall -- this time it involves 740,000 cars and sports-utility vehicles in the U.S. and nearly 600,000 units in Japan to repair a seal on the vehicles' brake master cylinder that may leak fluid and impair braking performance.
In Asia Friday China's Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.7% on new numbers out of Beijing that indicate the Chinese economy is indeed cooling off. Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index increased 0.4%, and in Japan the Nikkei 225 Index inched down 0.1%.
Toyota wants all the "unintended acceleration" lawsuits thrown out, essentially on an "it's all in their heads" theory, reports Bloomberg. Toyota notes that no specific defect has been identified, and says all evidence of the problem is "anecdotal."
The Japanese company will recall the 2000-2004 Avalon sedans due to potential problems with the steering lock bar. Three accidents, but no injuries, have been reported so far that could be related to the defect.
The world's largest automaker has reiterated its defense that "pedal misapplication" is the cause of many unintended acceleration cases, following a report that federal investigators have found little evidence of an electronic source.
Acknowledging that "fast growth of the past decade has been too much in some areas for the company to keep up with," a Toyota VP says the carmaker will extend product development by four weeks and add 1,000 engineers to quality control.
Toyota is facing new accusations that it dragged its feet in issuing a recall. The world's largest auto company recently recalled 270,000 Lexus sedans to fix faulty valve springs that could cause the cars' engines to stall while they are in motion -- a problem it has known about since 2007.