Japanese car makers are suddenly finding it hard to compete in the North American market. Where once, they saw year on year market share growth, now they are stagnating or loosing share. Is this because of the Tsunami, the bail outs or the recession?
I believe the main reason lays elsewhere. I believe the problem lies with the accountants. Have you recently driven a Toyota or Honda? The last Corolla I drove came over as being cheaply made; the same was true of my expensive Yaris. It just didn’t feel like a quality car.
That’s a problem if you built your relationship on quality. Japanese cars were about the product. Creating a quality product that was better than the competition was the primary concern, yet it seems that a corner was turned in the road, and profit maximization became the leading concern. And what’s happened? The Civic is no longer market leader. Dull shape, dull ride, hard plastics inside. Who’s doing well? Hyundai. Beautiful, inspired design, nice interiors, great fuel economy and good pricing. Hyundai have focused on the product.
Other car companies that are doing well are focusing on their product too. When Chrysler was run by accountants, and there is no better example than Chrysler, its cars we’re awful. Interiors were less solid than Tonka trucks. And yet, what. Difference a couple of years makes. They’ve improved quality, much better interiors and are offering good value. One thing that Chrysler has always had is good designers and good concepts. With a focus on products, in a few years they could well be doing very well.
Tie this into Apple’s modus operandi. A focus on great quality products (a reasonable prices, so within reason). Don’t ship it if it’s not class leading. Just don’t. Success leads from this. A focus on short term profit maximization leads to poor quality products that consumers will shun.
Are you listening Toyota and Honda?