The upcoming rush of new products from Toyota had dealers asking for details at the Toyota make meeting at the NADA convention. Toyota has promised 11 new products over the next 18 months, ranging from the small environmentally friendly Echo to the big V-8-powered Sequoia sport-utility.
Alan DeCarr, Toyota Division vice president of sales, told dealers the brand wants to broaden its appeal to younger buyers with new products and new approaches.
'Our goal is to sell 1.8 million cars annually by 2010,' DeCarr said. The goal represents a 500,000-unit gain from 1999 sales.
'Getting to that point is going to mean working closely with our dealers to improve our process, to invest in dealerships and to train our people,' he said.
DeCarr reassured dealers at the meeting that Toyota will not attempt to sell vehicles over the World Wide Web independently of its franchisees. 'Whatever we do, we want to go through our dealers,' he said. 'We want to deliver the sales to them.'
As pumped as Toyota dealers appeared to be over new products, some asked about obtaining more existing products. One of the hottest-selling products of 1999 was the Sienna minivan. It is limited in production capacity at the Toyota factory in Georgetown, Ky., which also builds the Camry and Avalon. The plant is running at capacity. Any increase in one product means a decrease in another.
But DeCarr told dealers the factory is looking for a way to increase both Sienna and Avalon production in 2000. The plant built about 70,000 Avalons this year. Toyota wants about 100,000 this year.
The answer probably will be relinquishing some Camry production to Toyota's sister plants in Japan, where a few thousand a year are built for the U.S. market, and importing more of them. That is something Toyota has avoided doing because its Camry advertising pitch is that it is made in the United States.
Dealers also are hot for more Tundra pickups, built in Princeton, Ind. The company sold about 47,000 in 1999. This year, DeCarr told dealers, the Princeton, Ind., plant will produce 100,000. He said allocations still will be tight this year because monthly sales are climbing.
Among other products coming in the near future, Toyota will introduce the hybrid-powered Prius in June, and will bring out the Sequoia in December.
Next year Toyota also will receive a version of the Lexus RX 300 called the Highlander.
The fuel-efficient Echo is targeted to sell about 50,000 units, and a new version of the Celica also is targeted at 50,000 units a year.