Toyota, Ford using social media to bolster their image during 2011 Detroit Auto Show

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 13, 2011

Jim Lentz, the COO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. will again take to Twitter and other social media outlets to address consumers' concerns about the safety of Toyota vehicles.

Lentz had also tapped Twitter and the other outlets during the height of Toyota's recall crisis earl in 2010. Lentz will hold a live Twitter chat with consumers during media days of the Detroit Auto Show to discuss quality, safety, and the new Prius family of vehicles.

The expanded message reflects the changing outlook for Toyota as it attempts to shake off a year of record recalls and regain the trust of American buyers, who were spooked by reports of unintended acceleration.

After "the most challenging time" in its 53-year history, U.S. operations chief Don Esmond said that Toyota is “in full recovery mode.” The setback cost Toyota its No. 2 rank in U.S. sales in 2010 to Ford Motor Co.

Consumers Reports magazine reported that Toyota's sharp decline and Ford's rising popularity put the two automakers “in a statistical dead heat” in a rating of the most favorably viewed auto brand in the U.S. During the Detroit show, both carmakers will rely on social media to enhance their image.

Ford will invade the blogosphere during the auto show as it launches its 2012 C-Max, its small alternative to a standard minivan. Toyota will focus on the Prius in a bid to capitalize on its position as the maker of the world's dominant gasoline-electric hybrid.

It will unveil its entire family of Prius vehicles, including a 2012 wagon and a concept version of a Prius-based vehicle. A Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle and a third-generation Prius will also be displayed.

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