Quality=Toyota, No longer True?

Has Toyota compromised on its Quality to become the world number 1 ? This is the top question being asked by the critics all over. In 2008 Toyota ended General Motors' 77-year reign as the world's largest auto maker but the road has been a bumpy one for the Japanese giant, long lauded for its vehicles' safety and reliability.

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Last week it recalled 2.3 million cars and trucks because of the accelerator problem. The move was separate to a recall of about 4.2 million vehicles that began last year due to a risk of loose floor mats jamming the pedals. Toyota is also believed to be considering a recall of as many as two million vehicles in Europe due to the accelerator problem.

The 2009 recall, Toyota's largest yet, came after a California Highway Patrol officer and three members of his family were killed in a fiery crash when the accelerator pedal of their Lexus became entrapped in the floor mat.

The firm said it would stop producing the eight models, including the Corolla and Camry sedans as well as the RAV4 and Highlander sport utility vehicles, for a week at five North American plants due to the sales suspension. It is important to mention that these models affected accounted for 70 percent of the maker's brand sales in the United States in December.

According to the analysts, Toyota's unprecedented decision to suspend sales of eight models in the United States due to possible defects will undoubtedly hit its earnings, but the impact on its brand image could be even more serious.

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