LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- For many Toyota dealers, the launch of the redesigned Tundra has already begun.
For the past year or so, dealers redesigning their stores had to reconfigure driveways, parking spaces, showrooms and service stalls to fit the larger Tundra, says Don Esmond, senior vice president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
Dealers already have spent $1 billion in renovations as part of Toyota's "Image USA II" campaign, which includes making room for the Tundra. In the next two years, dealers will spend another $2 billion, Esmond said at a press event here.
Jim Farley, Toyota group vice president, says, "We sent teams to every dealership. We drove a Ford F-250 into the service stalls, tested the turning circles. This was not just about the size of the service bays. We needed to make sure the lifts, jacks and wheel balancing machines would work with the new Tundra."
Equally important is getting dealership personnel ready for the new type of customer.
Toyota initially planned en-masse training of its dealership personnel, with everyone getting the same amount of information on the truck. But dealers instead recommended that each showroom have a cadre of "champions" who know the Tundra inside and out. Everyone else in the store will get a basic working knowledge of the truck.
Farley says the dealership training will cost Toyota $20 million. The redesigned Tundra goes on sales in February.
Dealerships also will add more Tundras to the service loaner fleet because a contractor won't want a Camry in trade while his pickup is in for service.
The launch also will challenge how Toyota looks at distribution. Normally, Toyota executives get nervous if days supply creeps above 45 or 50 days. But that won't give dealers enough Tundra variants for contractors who like to see different versions.
That may mean inventories will be considerably higher than for other Toyota models. One option is having a regional pool of models available for dealers to draw from.
"You have to have stock on hand," Farley says. "A plumber or gardener isn't going to wait three weeks for you to get the right model to look at."
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]