"You have a company whose reputation is built on quality. It's going to damage Toyota for the U.S. in the foreseeable future," said Executive Director Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety.
Toyota's sales have dropped 23.8 percent in 2009, in line with the industry's average, but a recall of four million vehicles due to uncontrolled acceleration has contributed to "a perfect storm" of bad luck for the company, Jake Fisher, a senior automotive engineer for Consumer Reports, told USA Today.
"If people are now questioning whether Toyota is going to be safe and reliable, that could really hurt their sales," he said.
Not everyone believes it is time to sound taps for Toyota. The company lost money for the first time in its history last year, but "they will emerge stronger than ever," said Jeffrey Liker, author of "The Toyota Way."