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Toyota maps strategy for ’16, new dealers to invest $7M

From left: George Christoff, president of Toyota de Puerto Rico and Brett Beals, general manager of Toyota Financial Services.

From left: George Christoff, president of Toyota de Puerto Rico and Brett Beals, general manager of Toyota Financial Services.

Toyota de Puerto Rico executives outlined plans Thursday to maintain its market share of 31.7 percent, while strengthening the operation this year, when three new dealerships invest $7 million to open new facilities as part of that strategy.

Focusing on its “Customers for Life” mantra, Toyota is looking to “highlight its strengths and build value” incorporating all areas of the company — dealerships, financing, products, parts and service — toward one goal of establishing lifetime relationships with customers,” said George Christoff, president of Toyota de Puerto Rico, Corp. during a meeting with members of the press.

This year, three new dealerships will open on the island at a combined investment of $7 million, while all 22 existing stores will adopt a new image over the next three to five years, said Nancy Navales, vice president of Toyota de Puerto Rico. So far, four dealers have converted their façades.

Despite experiencing a flat 2015, in which Toyota closed the year with 22,435 non-fleet vehicle sales, representing an 8 percent year-over-year from 2014, Toyota de Puerto Rico continues to hold a commanding market share of 31.7 percent and expects to maintain this position throughout 2016.

Christoff said the company has a lineup of top performers in six market segments: Yaris with 33.5 percent in Entry subcompact; Corolla with 43.4 percent in Standard subcompact; RAV4 with 16.8 percent in Small SUVs; Highlander with 27.7 percent in Mid SUVs; Tacoma with 85.5 percent in Small Pick Ups; and Lexus NX with 41.2 percent in Entry Luxury SUV.

Toyota expects sales performance to remain the same this year, as well as keep at least 30 percent of market share, even as the industry is showing a slight slump in sales, he said.

Toyota’s “Customer for Life” philosophy is built on three operational models revolving around products, its dealership network and parts and service, an area of business “focused on helping customers keep their cars as new as possible with genuine parts, certified technicians, on time service, and warranties. We increased parts and service sales by 26 percent vs. last year, and expect to continue this trend throughout the year.”

Finally, its Toyota Financial Services division is also a key part of the operation, providing access to vehicles through discounts on loan interest rates, payment flexibility, and alternative financing programs like “Balloon Financing,” in which the payment contract is encompassed in 48 months, said Brett Beals, general manager of the division.

“I believe that we are in the relationship business. Toyota does more than sell cars, we seek to establish a bond with our customers and provide them with the quality service that equals the quality of our product,” Christoff said.

This year, Toyota will be marking the 50th anniversary of the Corolla and plans to unveil several new models during the upcoming New York International Auto Show in March, Navales said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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