LOS ANGELES -- Toyota Division wants its dealers to invest in lavish new showrooms and larger service areas to handle higher sales and a new full-sized pickup.
The renovation program, called Image USA II, will be introduced to Toyota dealers at September's national meeting in Las Vegas. Some dealers already have begun making the design changes.
Toyota says the upgrades will cost about $150 a square foot, or $3.75 million for a dealership with 25,000 square feet in showroom and service area space.
The automaker is trying to persuade reluctant dealers to participate. One way is by having district managers drive full-sized pickups into Toyota service bays. That's supposed to show how undersized the stalls will be for the 2006 Tundra.
Executives say the plan would allow dealers to handle a 40 percent increase in service business. Toyota now has about 19 million vehicles in operation in the United States, and the figure is expected to rise to 22 million by 2008.
The plan has specific design criteria for dealership interiors.
"We need to bring the showrooms back into the walk-around business, where the salesman sells the car and not the deal," says Al Cabito, Toyota group vice president of sales administration.