We’ve all seen the negative headlines surrounding Toyota in recent weeks. The auto manufacturer, long known for their high quality standards allowed a major product flaw to go unaddressed for much too long. The resulting impact to the Toyota image and the negative PR that has followed has many consumers reconsidering whether they should ever buy another Toyota again. In fact, if you simply went by the recent news headlines, anyone even considering buying a Toyota in 2010 would be considered a fool.
However, if there is anything that we should have learned from the market crash of the last couple of years is that you should never sell when the rest of the market is panicking.
While Toyota’s product flaws and bungled response deserve plenty of criticism, some of the recent warnings have been over the top. Last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood even warned Toyota owners to stop driving their vehicles. Some Toyota owners are even responding to these safety concerns by looking to trade their vehicle for a less-risky option.
Unfortunately, the negative fallout from these product concerns is causing the resale values of the affected Toyota vehicles to decline dramatically. Edmunds.com estimates that the affected vehicles have seen their values fall by up to 10%.
This can be particularly troubling to Toyota owners who purchased their vehicle on the basis that they were buying a high quality vehicle which would retain its value much better than any of its competitors.
While this crisis is certainly having a negative impact on Toyota dealerships that now seem to be almost vacant, it represents a unique opportunity to consumers.
Toyota has developed its reputation by making high quality cars and trucks that consumers like to buy. Their sterling reputation and high resale values have allowed dealerships to consistently sell their vehicles at close to actual sticker price. Toyota dealers rarely needed to resort to heavy price discounting due to the demand for their products.
This trend is almost certain to change in 2010. Soon these dealerships will get the green light to begin selling their Toyota inventory again, but they will face the challenge of winning back customers who now have serious doubts about Toyota quality. Heavy discounts, rebates and incentives will undoubtedly be put in place as Toyota looks to move their stagnant inventory.
American consumers will likely be offered the best deals on Toyota vehicles in years. It will be the consumer who will possess the upper-hand in sales negotiations. And since Toyota will certainly be refocused on producing higher-quality vehicles, consumers will be purchasing higher quality vehicles at a reduced cost.