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Toyota retail revamp to divert recall attention

New-look: Toyota's new CMI Adelaide dealership previews the future for the Japanese giant's retail operations.

A flagship site and sales milestones underpin a new, improved-quality Toyota

Toyota logo15 Apr 2010

TOYOTA is trying to put its ongoing overseas recall saga behind it and move forward as new models appear on the horizon in Australia, with a pair of announcements this month designed to put a positive spin back into the T-brand.

The first is a modern and progressive dealership facility in Adelaide’s CBD, while the second is its five millionth Australian vehicle sale milestone.

Both were deemed newsworthy enough for Toyota to gather Australia’s motoring media to the new $25 million West Terrace dealership – a four-storey, 35-bay showroom and service centre combination featuring a lounge area with refreshments, WIFI connectivity, and an express service regime for selected Toyota vehicles.

A similar site just 150 metres away for Lexus vehicles is due for completion in 2012.

The progressive (for Toyota) open-plan layout is expected to be replicated in future dealership upgrades or installations, as the national dealer body collectively continues to spend over $100m annually on upgrading facilities across the country.

The West Terrace Toyota is owned and run by CMI Commercial Motor Industries – one of Australia’s oldest dealership groups with ties leading back to 1934. It was also the South Australian agent for Toyota commercial vehicles from 1963 to 1988.

Meanwhile, the five millionth vehicle – a Camry – was purchased in March, culminating in 2.9 million passenger cars and 2.1 million commercial vehicle sales. Of these 1.1 million were Corollas, followed by the Camry and LandCruiser (740,000 apiece) and HiLux (650,000).

However it was not all chest beating, since Toyota’s sales and marketing boss David Buttner did spend time revealing his company’s reactions to, as well as action resulting from, the global recall mess anyway, reiterating a redoubling of its core safety, quality and customer focus fundamentals on both a national and international level.

“All cars will become much safer in the future across all brands (as a result of the increased scrutiny on safety and quality),” Mr Buttner said.

He then spoke of Toyota’s volume gains in Australia this year (to date more than 1300 Hybrid Camrys have been sold so it is on target for 10,000 buyers in 2010, while the brand’s March result is 22.3 per cent ahead of the same time last year) and increased production at the Altona plant.

Mr Buttner also underlined Toyota Motor Company in Japan’s continuing support for local manufacturing in Australia, which has resulting in around $200 million worth of purchasing over the last 12 months alone of South Australian supplied parts in the locally made Camry and Aurion.

According to one Toyota spokesman, the idea of the media gathering (besides the dealer news and sales milestone) was so future product launches this year – such as next month’s Rukus crossover/compact SUV – would not be hijacked by a barrage of questions regarding recalls and quality woes.

This was the fate suffered by the Hybrid Camry on its February unveiling, just as the worst of the overseas recall news was hitting the headlines.

“We need to move forward so we thought it would be a good idea to have you all here now so we can get on with things when we next meet,” the spokesman told GoAuto.

“Of course there’s always the risk of opening old wounds but in the end we decided this was the right way to go.”

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