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Toyota struggling to push up sales in Japan. Displaying cars at mall

12, 25. 2007

   Toyota Motor Corp. is struggling to lever up its sluggish domestic sales. Following the test riding of its cars held at Tokyo's Odaiba on Dec. 1-2, 2007, the biggest event of the kind the carmaker has ever conducted, the company opened an auto mall for the first time in an urban area in Yokohama on Dec. 5. Toyota's overseas sales are brisk, and the company is aiming at becoming the world's largest auto company in terms of number of cars sold. Its sales at home, however, are not doing so well, and it is making its utmost efforts to stimulate demand for its cars with new sales strategy.

Its sales might fall down again after market is filled up with new models

One of every two new cars sold in 2007 is Toyota's
One of every two new cars sold in 2007 is Toyota's

   Toyota's new-car sales in the months of August, October and November of this year went up over the corresponding months of last year. While the market shares of all other Japanese carmakers shrank, that of Toyota expanded to exceed the 50% mark for the first time in October. The it remained above 50% in November. One out of every two new cars sold seems to be Toyota's, making the company looking like the sole winner.

   Toyota's domestic sales have turned upward since summer because it introduced almost continuously such new models as Voxy, Noah and Corolla Rumion. After the effect of introducing new models has made a round, its sales might return to a downward trend, and Toyota is not taking a optimistic view. It is because the company is carefully looking at its future sales, the company is taking measures one after another to stimulate the market.

   The company lined up 74 cars centering on new models at the Odaiba test driving event. Ranging from the thrilling experience of riding on the passenger seat of racing cars to easy test riding arranged for people having drivers license but not actually driving, wide variety of trials were offered at the event in an attempt to attract the visitors to owning cars. To attract young people who are said to be losing interest in cars, booths were set up to let them enjoy foot massage and enjoy music in cars. Yoichi Ichimaru, Toyota's executive director in charges of domestic sales, said that many different kinds of ideas are necessary besides showing only new cars, indicating that the company is considering to conduct similar events across the country.

   The auto mall Toyota opened in Yokohama, Tressa Yokohama, is a six-floor building with a total shopping floor area of 60,000 square meters. It is Toyota's newly developing distribution center. All dealers in the Toyota group, including Daihatsu Motor Co.) display in the mall so that visitors can select whatever cars they might want ranging from luxury cars to mini cars in one building.

Targeting at clients missed by individual dealers

   Non-carmaker outsider firms also have their shops in the mall, including Uniqlo for fashion goods and Loft for general merchandise. There are also about 220 shops, including a supermarket, a sports shop and restaurants in the same building to attract families with children and other people in variety of walks of life. The north wing of the mall was opened on Dec. 5 and the south wing is scheduled for opening in March 2008. Toyota is expecting 11 million visitors to the mall and a total sales of 35 billion yen in fiscal 2008.

   Toyota is aiming at luring customers who can not be served by individual dealers to the mall. The company has already opened similar malls in Yaoshi in Osaka Prefecture for the Kansan district and in Gifu for the Chubu district. The opening of the mall in Yokohama means the company has advanced into the central area surrounding Tokyo. Katsuaki Watanabe, president of Toyota, said that visitors to the mall can see the cars displayed while they enjoy shopping and other things available in the place. The mall can thus attract people who do not usually visit car dealers, he said.

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