ORLANDO, Fla. -- Toyota's growth train keeps on rolling.
Four new or redesigned products - including the 2007 Camry - will arrive in dealerships this spring. With these launches, Toyota Division likely will break 2 million sales in 2006, becoming just the third brand to do so in this country. Toyota Division sold 1,800,916 units in America last year.
"We'll break 2 million unless the sky falls," said Jim Lentz, Toyota Division general manager.
Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said dealers will be encouraged to have "Product Toyotathons." Instead of the typical deal-driven sales push, this version will entail promoting the arrival of the four new products: the Camry and RAV4 redesigns, the Yaris replacement of the Echo, and the all-new FJ Cruiser.
Jeff Wyler, president of his family's multifranchise holdings in Cincinnati, is one of many Toyota dealers spending a collective $2 billion to meet that growth.
"I am creating two new facilities for my Toyota dealerships because the current ones are too small," Wyler said. "It's like Toyota is launching a new vehicle every 60 days."
But with growth come challenges. Toyota frequently has struggled in J.D. Power customer service rankings, finishing below average even though Lexus regularly tops the rankings.
Press said Toyota dealers have shown CSI improvements in recent years, but it hasn't been enough.
Toyota will try to help dealers improve, for instance, by having one training module, rather than four separate ones, for the four new products. That means more efficient training.
"We had a big CSI improvement in 2005," said Earl Hesterberg, president of Group 1 Automotive in Houston. "Another year like that will put us close to where Toyota wants us."
Press said Toyota also wants to absorb some costs from dealerships. Toyota is looking into a more efficient parts delivery system so that dealers have less capital expense and space used by parts inventory.
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