Skip to comments.General Motors vs. Toyota: A Fable
Posted on 12/07/2017 11:38:47 AM PST by Strac6
A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (General Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.
On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile .
The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.
Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people paddling and 1 person steering, while the American team had 7 people steering and 2 people paddling.
Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.
They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were paddling.
Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the paddling team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 2 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.
They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 2 people paddling the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program,' with meetings, dinners and free pens for the paddlers. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices, and bonuses. The pension program was trimmed to 'equal the competition' and some of the resultant savings were channelled into morale boosting programs and teamwork posters.
The next year the Japanese won by two miles..
Humiliated, the American management laid off one paddler, halted development of a new canoe, sold all the paddles, and cancelled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses.
The next year, try as he might, the lone designated paddler was unable to even finish the race (having no paddles), so he was laid off for unacceptable performance, all canoe equipment was sold and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India.
Sadly, the End.
Here's something else to think about: GM has spent the last thirty years moving as many factories as it could out of the US, claiming they can't make money paying American wages.
TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US.
The last quarter's results:
TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while GM rack s up 9 billion in losses.
GM folks are still scratching their heads, and collecting bonuses.
Didn’t it happen time and time again?
Both companies make utter rubbish.
Toyota is back to the 80s practice of including Rust in the design and the GM cars are once again considering 80,000 miles “Lifetime”
It’s all garbage now. Even BMW. It’s nice garbage, don’t get me wrong but it’s still junk that doesn’t last nearly as long as it should.
I worked for Toyota for several years before they moved their national HQ from Torrance, CA to Plano, TX in 2015. There is much truth in your fable, but it still comes down to quality. Before the corporate move, I bought a new 2015 Sienna. It’s the first (and probably only) brand new vehicle I’ve ever owned. Just look at the depth of the paint job alone compared to a GM product. The Sienna is not perfect, but it’s higher quality is even visually obvious. It drives like a dream, is solid and just a terrific vehicle. Every day I see GM, Ford and Chrysler products. They are serviceable, but their quality is still lacking.
The American car companies sent fact-finding teams to examine the Japanese auto plants when the Japanese cars really started to see in the US.
One of the things the Americans notices was a cord that ran near the entire length of the assembly line.
The Americans asked about the cord.
It was an emergency stop cord.
If a Japanese worker saw a problem with one of the vehicles, he could pull the cord to stop the assembly line and then the problem could be investigated and fixed.
The American car companies put emergency stop cords in all their plants.
The Americans invited the Japanese over to see the changes they had made.
They were watching one assembly line and a worker pulled the cord to stop production. Because he had seen a problem.
The American plant manager proudly explained to the Japanese that this happened several times a day.
One of the Japanese looked at the American plant manager and said,
“None of our employees would dare pull that cord. They would be too ashamed and they would be afraid of shaming a fellow employee. They would just take care of the problem.”
It’s about a difference in national history and culture.
It isn’t just the auto industry that has the same or similar stories.
“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton
I own Honda’s that are built in America.
With the exception of an old ‘54 Dodge pickup, I have never owned an ‘American’ brand.
Growing up we had Fords, Cadillacs, Lincolns and Chryslers. When we began buying Mercedes, Peugeots (the 504 - nothing later), BMW’s and a few other brands, the driving experience and quality was VASTLY superior. We also never had the ‘OOPS what just fell off the car’ moment. Or were stranded by some poorly built device under the hood that stopped all locomotion.
Mercedes, Peugeot and BMW’s quality has vastly deteriorated, as such I drive RELIABLE automobiles.
Our 300 SEL 6.3 was the fastest sedan in the US in ‘71 with a 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds.
Our Honda Pilot can do 0-60 in 6.5 seconds with more than a tad bit less maintenance. And with 4 Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8’s it’s unbelievable in the snow/ice.
It’s a bonus that they are made by US workers.
The only way to understand the conundrum of GM is to accept as fact that their business strategy is the optimization of loss of money and market share. Additionally, they are essentially a health care provider that makes vehicles. Pretty great Id ones by my experiences I might add.
The caprice classic redesign, the Saturn abandonment, selling Direct TV etc... the evidence is all there.
I just passed my first smog check on my 2011 Silverado in July, at about 236,000 miles.
It’s not about where they make them. It’s about what they make. Toyota vehicles are good and last, GM are not. Every single GM vehicle could be made here and they’d still suck. Every single Toyota vehicle could be made the Third World #$%^hole of your naming, and they’d still be good.
My wife had a couple of Saturn cars. They were really good.
We both went Toyota eventually.
Her hybrid Camry is doing just fine. It passed 100k recently.
There is a guy around here that has a little basic Toyota truck pushing 400k miles with only routine maintenance.
Sold my 93 Supra with over 300,000 miles on it and the engine still purred like the day i bought it.
Besides a steering rack and the usual’s like a single exhaust and clutch replacement, brakes etc. it was the most dependable car that i have ever owned.
I hope to get the reman q-jet on my 79 Blazer and crank it over.
The recent big move has put that about a month behind.
And don’t forget the Unions.
Two canoes were used. One costing $49.99. The other - Union built - cost $109.99 and was inferior in build and quality.
Then the next year Toyota raced against Ford. Their boat his a rock and everyone on it was killed by a defective airbag.
“There is a guy around here that has a little basic Toyota truck pushing 400k miles with only routine maintenance.”
I am on my third Toyota Tacoma(1988, 1999, 2012).
When I sold the 1988(125k miles) I had two guys call that asked if it would pass inspection. I said, of Course but why? He stated that he would buy Toyota and Datsun/Nissan pickups and ship them overseas. He shipped them to Central America and Asia. Shortly after the war broke out in Afghanistan. All those Taliban guys were riding around in old Toyota and Datsun pickup trucks.
From then on I referred to my truck as “The Officially Vehicle of the Taliban”. I even had a bumper sticker made that said exactly that.
Union legacy costs is a big factor in the equation-fable. Unionization is socialism by community. Socialism doesn’t work never will. FDR was afraid of unions or was a closet unionist and gave in to UMWA as well other unions which immediately started spiraling legacy costs that now are in the billions. The best thing that could have happened was GM to go bankrupt and shedding the legacy costs and all unions. But too big to fail concept ruled the day and a crippled GM continues along.
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