Once-mighty Toyota is having a rough month, during a period of already lean times for the global auto industry. As our correspondent (and green car guru) Jim Motavalli has been documenting for TDG, the recalls of millions of Toyota vehicles have seemed to spiral into an ever greater mess. While the car maker points fingers at pedal assemblies provided by a third party, others worry that the fixes being offered by dealers don't get at the root of the problem (which some theorize may be electronic interference in the increasingly complex computer systems of modern rides, and which may extend beyond Toyota to other brands).
At the same time, Toyota is getting pummeled by at least 100 complaints from American drivers who claim the brakes failed on their 2010 Priuses (or Prii, as some put it). As industry analysts have looked closer at the hybrids' regenerative braking systems, questions have also emerged about at least one Lexus model and hybrids offered by Ford. So the popular, gas-sipping cars have clearly hit an icy patch, while Toyota and others scramble for solutions.
Against this context, some observers have quipped that Toyota's recent branding strategy, "Moving Forward," now takes an ironic tone. Since some drivers have complained of sudden acceleration moving their vehicles forward on their own, one blogger suggested that the company change its slogan to "Toyota: Not Moving At All. Promise." Other timely suggestions for Toyota include "Moving Forward, but Slowly and with Complete Control"; "Sorry We Killed Your Neighbor"; "You Be the Test Dummy"; and from commenter Luke Duke, "Toyota. Because you never know when someone is going to turn your life into the movie Speed."
My friend Remy C. (who is trying to shut down Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant with his effort Rock the Reactors) dropped by my place yesterday to drop off some fresh flyers for his Bastille Day (July 14) green lighting party extravaganza in NYC. He also showed me the latest issue of Complex magazine, the men's urban style and shopping title from designer Marc Ecko. He flipped past pinup photos of Buffy the Vampire Slayer cutie Michelle Trachtenberg to a double-sided ad for Toyota Corolla. We were both struck immediately by the creepy irony.
"There's a dead end around the corner and only one way to last chance..." "Do you have what it takes to survive?"
While the ad is clearly a play on the zombie apocalypse trope, a la Zombieland, the sinister imagery certainly takes another tone given recent events. Hopefully Toyota will be able to emerge from the ranks of the living dead and regain consumer confidence before long.
Here's the back of the double-sided ad:
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