One Day You’re In…

As super model Heidi Klum host of TVs Project Runway says in her clipped German accent — before banishing designers from the show. “In the fashion world one day you’re in… the next day you’re out!”

So too in the automotive world fortunes are volatile. After decades of a pristine image of quality and customer service — Toyota’s recent fall from grace over bad press, recalls and natural disasters — was breathtaking. Going from annual profits topping $20 billion to a first ever loss in 59 years was public anguish for Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda, who also had to endure a grilling by U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about product defect reporting.

A critical 2012 comeback was anticipated for Toyota, with a major boost from new editions of their best-selling Camry sedans and Prius hybrids. But the wildcard was always — how much would the much publicized lapses in quality and candor at Toyota hurt their relationship with customers?

Based on Toyota’s April sales jump of 12 percent in the US market, with a doubling of sales of the Camry and Prius from a year ago, the core values of the brand are intact as far as its customers are concerned.