The mantra of continuous improvement provides a backdrop for another year of record U.S. sales for Toyota Motor Sales, one in which the combined sales of the Toyota, Scion and Lexus brands will surpass the 2 million unit milestone for the first time.
At the September national dealer meeting in Las Vegas, Press rammed home the need for dealerships to follow Toyota's advertising covenant.
Press said, "Our dealer advertising can't be a gimmick that would put pressure on other dealers to sell at a loss to match."
In the interview last week, Press discussed other issues:
On hybrid vehicles: "If you look far enough forward, hybrid becomes a common platform through our lineup. We are prioritizing when the next generations are built, which ones will have hybrid powertrains available. The current Sienna was not developed to have a hybrid version. This is a 30- to 40-year rollout, so you have to do it right and in the right cadence. You don't have to be in such a hurry that you compromise short-term issues."
On gas prices: "Fundamental consumer buying patterns won't change until gasoline is consistently above $3 a gallon. It still won't alter the purchasing habits away from the full-size segment, as much as favoring the more fuel efficient vehicles within the segment. People still have seven kids they want to take on vacation or to the movies. They still want to tow boats. These folks aren't going to drive around in a Matrix."
On the rush to rear-drive cars: "Lexus definitely should have front- and rear-drive cars. The typical (front-drive) Lexus ES 330 customer may not be able to tell you whether the driving wheels are the front, rear, left or right. A lot of buyers don't have that technical knowledge, but their seat of the pants tells them what they like and don't like. Front-drive saves expense, weight and gives good traction in cold weather states. There is more efficient interior space. Those buyers are not performance-oriented, they are comfort and convenience oriented."
On Scion's poor sales satisfaction showing: "Scion was unfairly treated by the J.D. Power people in this cycle. The survey was taken when 50 percent of our sales were concentrated in the three regions that traditionally have the worst SSI, no matter what the brand. Scion also had a disadvantage in that its sales process doesn't fit the questionnaire. Customers couldn't answer questions about inventory because we don't have any. We have Internet shopping, not a traditional shopping process. We know Scion customers are far happier than the data would indicate.
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