For decades, Toyota has been one of the most admired companies in the world. They were able to turn their image in the 1960's and 70's from cheap Japanese import to the car of choice for millions of consumers worldwide. Toyota's strategy has varied significantly over the years. The company began by primarily imitating many of its competitor's designs and even used some of its components. Much of the early strategy of Toyota was focused on becoming the low cost leader in the market niches they worked to carve out. However, in the late eighties the company added a luxury fleet to its product lineup under the brand name Lexus. Toyota has always been tremendously market driven; the company has constantly redefined themselves in terms of a changing market. This has been the company's primary strength over the years.
Toyota's Strategy and Current Strategic Fit
Today, Toyota is one of the world's largest manufacturers of automobiles in both unit sales and in net sales (Toyoland, N.d.). Toyota has become a modern industry giant primarily because they have had a long history of being a global innovator in manufacturing. Apart from the company's revolutionary manufacturing technics that were developed internally, the company has also upheld a customer oriented approach to product development. Toyota is constantly scanning the external environment and tailoring its approach to meet evolving consumer expectations in regard to quality, value, and innovations through engineering (Hauser, 1988).
Toyota has developed a large number of consumer niche segments over the years. One of the best examples of a recent niche that Toyota has worked to develop is the hybrid market. Toyota's breakthrough model, the Prius, was driven by revolutionary gains fuel efficiency which exemplifies the company's dedication to innovation through engineering. Toyota has recently announced plans to further develop this market by rolling out 21 new or redesigned gasoline-electric powered vehicles by the end of 2015 and playing down the near-term outlook for other alternative-fuel technologies such as all-electric vehicles (Dawson, 2012).
The Toyota Prius is an innovative vehicle that has focused on the needs of the environmentally aware consumers. Not only has the Prius made significant gains in regard to fuel economy in the hybrid segment, but the car line's popularity was also fueled by an effective marketing campaign. The marketing message that promoted the Prius worked to start a social revolution in the environmentally conscious market segment (Newell, 2011). As a result of Toyota's engineering and the marketing campaign, the Prius was able to capture a premium in the market place. Toyota has been able to successfully be the industry leader in hybrid technology while other manufactures such as Nissan and GM have concentrated on electric vehicles such as the Leaf and the Volt (Bullis, 2010).
Toyota's successful growth record it has achieved in its history has been a result of the company's dedication to identify and adapting to the needs of the consumers in the market since the external landscape is continuously changing, Toyota has had to reinvent itself of the years. The global recession in 2008 and the rising fuel prices have represented the basis for the most recent evolution. Toyota was well positioned for this environment due to the fact that the company has focused on consumer value and as a result the company went through a great deal of expansionary efforts after the global recession stabilized.
However, this expansion has also caused Toyota many growing pains. Although Toyota has maintained a dedication in manufacturing with regard to quality, in the last few years Toyota has been the subject of a lot of negative publicity that has erupted from a serious safety problems related to several of their vehicle models. Some of the quality problems have included defects related to brakes failing and accelerators becoming stuck when operating the vehicles. As a result of the safety problems many of Toyota's vehicles have had to be recalled and repaired. For example, one product recall was due to a defective throttle control system that in some cases caused the cars to idle, turn off during operation, or even accelerate uncontrollably (Toyota, 2012).
Recommendations for a Better Strategic Fit
The quality issues have been a primary priority for Toyota. After a series of quality issues began to manifest, Toyota immediately created a "Special Committee for Global Quality (SCGQ)" (Toyoda, 2010). The purpose of the committee was to take a holistic approach to improving quality across the…