Why do Toyotas last so long?
Toyota has a reputation for building extremely reliable vehicles that last for the long term. They tend to be at the top or very near the top of consumer surveys for reliability. This year, the automaker and its luxury division Lexus took the two top spots in this year's Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability survey. Toyota's reliability rewards customers with a very low cost of ownership. Here are a few reasons Toyota vehicles stand the test of time.
Toyota's manufacturing model is based on the philosophy of Kaizen. In Japanese, this literally means "change for the better". The philosophy has been implemented in an informal way in the company since 1960, and its principles were set down in the official description the Toyota Production System in 1992.
Kaizen refers to the philosophy of continuous improvement, where the input and involvement of all employees is sought in order to improve production processes on every level. This is the cornerstone of the Toyota Production System, and is often seen as the source of its competitive advantage. While many automakers have attempted to copy Toyota's approach, none have been fully successful; this is thought to be because Toyota's philosophy is so deeply ingrained in its corporate culture.
Cautious approach to change
Toyota has a major advantage over many automakers, especially American ones, in its approach to change. Some automakers seek to impress the consumer with major design changes in every car they bring out. While this can be exciting, it often leads to problems with reliability. Toyota only exhibits limited innovation in each new car in order to focus on quality and durability.
In contrast to senior management at many large automakers, Toyota's management tends to stay in place for the long term. This allows senior management to plan far ahead.
Focus on quality, not profits
The philosophy of Kaizen emphasizes above all the quality of what is being produced. Toyota has a laser focus on perfecting its products. This maximizes its product desirability. Unlike many other automakers, it is less interested in adding bells and whistles or increasing short-term sales goals than on manufacturing excellent products.