Is taking advantage of Toyota's self-inflicted recall woes "predatory," as rival Honda puts it? Nah. All is fair in love, war and the automotive marketplace, and if the auto giant's teeth are getting kicked in a little further because of gains made last month by General Motors, Ford, Hyundai and other automakers who rewarded buyers trading in Toyotas, that is the price of behaving badly.
And evidence continues to mount that Toyota, which has recalled 6 million cars in the U.S. alone, behaved very badly.
A New York Times analysis of government documents shows that many Toyota Camrys built before 2007, which were not subject to recalls, have been linked to a comparable number of speed-control problems as the recalled Camrys.
In fact, the newspaper found that Toyota, which leapfrogged General Motors to become the leading automaker because of a reputation for dull but reliable cars, had more crash complaints than any other automaker.
With February sales numbers trickling in, Ford was the biggest beneficiary of Toyota's ills, reporting a 43 percent sales increase. It beat out General Motors to become the U.S.'s top-selling automaker for the month by a mere 471 units. Toyota's sales were down 9 percent.
Other automakers have not been immune to recalls.
G.M. issued one of its own this week, saying it needed to replace a motor in the power-steering systems of 1.3 million Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact cars, but the new recall is unlikely to hurt the automaker the way Toyota has been tarnished because the cars can be safely controlled and the problem has not resulted in any serious injuries or deaths.
Photograph by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters