Toyota Dealers Hope HQ Move Sparks Diesel Tundra, Other Improvements
North Texas Toyota dealers have an interesting take on the corporate companies relocation to that area. They hope Toyota executives see first-hand all the full-size trucks on the road and this will spur them to commit more resources to the Tundra.
A story in the Dallas News says local dealers in that area have been talking with Toyota executives for years about trucks. Yet, they haven’t been successful at getting their message through. The corporate HQ move to Texas may finally change their thinking.
“We are constantly talking to [Toyota execs] about the impact here of trucks,” said Pat Lobb, owner of Pat Lobb Toyota in McKinney and a member of Toyota’s national dealer council. “When they come to Texas and see Tundras and Ford and Chevy trucks everywhere, they will get a firsthand look at what customers buy and how they use their trucks.”
The dealers say having the corporate HQ in California may have skewed the visiting executives view on the full-size truck market. This has some validity to it since the only full-size truck Toyota makes is in North America and many of the Japanese executives simply don’t understand the market. Seeing the numbers on a spreadsheet is a lot different than seeing a parking lot full of full-size trucks.
California is such a different state and not heartland America,” said Rusty Gentry, general manager of Toyota of Plano. “When they see all the different grades of trucks that people here drive — from the guy who just needs a work truck to the white-collar professional in a luxury pickup — that could help our truck.”
Along with greater awareness of the full-size truck market, dealers say they hope the HQ move will help them drive home the “American” brand of the Tundra.
This should be good news for dealers because Toyota has been trying for years to show that it is effectively an American brand,” said Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at Cars.com. “And this move to Texas will be a pretty big step in that direction.”
Side Effects of the Move
In other news, dealers are also expecting an increase of vehicles sales and service orders from the approximately 4,000 Toyota employees moving or will be hired. Typically, automakers require their employees to own their products.
And the increased presence of Toyota executives means dealers will need to pay closer attention to the state of their business. This is due to impromptu executive visits becoming more common.
“It will be another set of eyes on you,” said Dane Minor, general manager of Freeman Toyota in Hurst. “From just an accountability perspective, everyone will need to be on their game.”
Several dealers are already responding with plans for expansions or new buildings.
A Better Diesel Tundra?
While many of our readers have been demanding improvements for the Tundra, it seems their voices have been echoed by Toyota dealers.
“Pat [Lobb] and I serve on numerous Toyota dealer councils, and one thing we always say is we need more trucks,” said Minor, general manager of Freeman Toyota. “I’m sure they’re tired of hearing it. They need to see it, and they can see the prevalence of pickups down here.”
They have also been lamenting the fact Toyota doesn’t offer a diesel. The diesel-powered, heavy-duty truck is a big part of the Texas landscape.
“When someone is looking for that kind of vehicle, we don’t get any consideration,” said Gentry of Toyota of Plano, whose dealership is building a new facility at State Highway 121 and Spring Creek Parkway, “practically next door” to Toyota’s future headquarters.
The other point of offering a heavy-duty is credibility in the full-size truck market.
“Consumers see those trucks and say if they can build a truck like that, they must build a great [conventional] pickup,” noted Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar.com.
Ultimately, dealers hope they can open the eyes of the executives to the truck’s potential and how much people really use them.
“Toyota really needs to appreciate pickup trucks beyond just their functionality,” said Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book. “Texas will help them find their way.”
One can hope.
UPDATE : Toyota Plans to Move U.S. Headquarters
Filed Under: Tundra News