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Toyota's recalls could put a dent in trust

Toyota Motor Corporation announces the redesigned Mark X luxury sedan during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, on October 19, 2009. The rear-wheel drive vehicle will have a new 314 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 engine along with a 200 horsepower 2.5 liter engine. It is geared for the Japanese market and some parts of Asia. UPI/Keizo Mori
1 of 2 | Toyota Motor Corporation announces the redesigned Mark X luxury sedan during a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, on October 19, 2009. The rear-wheel drive vehicle will have a new 314 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 engine along with a 200 horsepower 2.5 liter engine. It is geared for the Japanese market and some parts of Asia. UPI/Keizo Mori | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Japanese automaker Toyota may have taken a larger hit in consumer confidence than other car companies, due to recent massive recalls, market analysts said.

"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.

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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."

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