Toyota Chief: P.R. has ‘highest acceptance’ in N. America
New York — When it comes to selling cars in the Americas, Toyota has found a very vibrant and accepting market in Puerto Rico, where it has a tight grasp on about 30 percent of the auto sales quota, which in comparison to the rest of North America is significantly high.
During a meeting with members of the Puerto Rican press corps who traveled to this city for the North American International Auto Show, Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota, said the island has the highest acceptance in the region, outpacing the U.S. mainland’s 14 percent to 15 percent share, Canada’s 12 percent share and Mexico’s 5 percent to 6 percent share.
“From an acceptance standpoint, Puerto Rico has the highest acceptance in the North American region,” said Carter, whose responsibilities cover that footprint. “We’re very proud of that.”
“Puerto Rico is a smaller market, but with almost twice the share of the U.S., where we do very well. Toyota is the number one retail brand in the U.S., but we do that with a 14 percent o 15 percent market share,” said Carter, who assumed his responsibilities for the Toyota division, the Lexus division, sales administration, Toyota Logistics Services, Toyota Motor Sales de Mexico and Toyota de Puerto Rico about three years ago.
On average, Toyota sells about 28,000 to 30,000 units a year on the island, where its product mix is also different from other markets, he said.
“It’s a very diverse marketplace. It’s not as centralized specifically on a few models as we are here in the U.S. [mainland],” he said.
For example, he said U.S. mainland customers go after the Camry — the company sold more than 408,000 units there last year — while Puerto Rico clients seek mostly compact sedans such as Corolla and Yaris.
“In Puerto Rico, you see the importance of the small car and the entry-level car. However, we have two Lexus dealers in Puerto Rico, in San Juan and Ponce, which are doing very well. So, we also have a good share of the luxury market,” Carter said.
While at the auto show, the Toyota executive did not have any specific announcements to make regarding what’s in the pipeline for the Puerto Rican market, he said customers can expect to see enhancements to the the current lineup of cars.
“This year, the big news is the enhancements coming for the Yaris liftback and the redesigned Camry,” he said, referring to the flagship sedan that was launched at the New York International Auto Show last week.
The all-new Camry is expected to arrive to the island’s shores sometime in mid-October. The price of the car has yet to be announced, as Toyota waits until 90 days before production starts in September to put a sticker on its vehicles, Carter explained.