NADA 2019: Toyota Promises Dealers More Utility Vehicles, Plans to Ignore EVs
While the closing day of the 2019 National Automobile Dealers Association meetup revolved around charitable opportunities, engineering equality in the workplace, and a talk from author, pro golfer, and USAF veteran Major Dan Rooney on the merits of personal accountability, the rest of the event focused more directly on the auto industry.
One of the larger announcements came from Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota North America’s Toyota division, who told dealers that his company intends to introduce 19 entirely new, redesigned, or refreshed vehicles over the next three years — focusing on utility models, but not ignoring cars. Toyota and Hollis are adamant that the brand can take advantage of other manufacturers abandoning sedan sales by both keeping them in its roster and continuing to improve them. Still, they acknowledge that SUVs and crossovers are essential in wrangling today’s buyers.
The secret, according to Toyota, is having a diverse lineup. However, pure electrics (and maybe minivans) don’t make the list, at least until sales data makes a better case for them.
“We’re still committed to being a full-line manufacturer,” Hollis told Automotive News in a brief interview after his speech. However, while the company’s fleshed-out lineup will include some new hybrids before 2022 (including the Corolla and Prius AWD-e), it plans to wait on battery-only models. “The equations around electric aren’t making money,” he explained.
Hollis also said that the brand is on a mission to improve dealership profitability, which he described as roughly even when comparing last year to 2017. He believes 2018 will end up being among the brand’s top 5 years for dealership profitability, once everything is tabulated.
Automotive News claims Toyota is among the most-liked brands in the industry, which rings true. We recently examined Cox Automotive’s assessment of which company’s dealers scored the highest and Toyota bested every mainstream manufacturer, losing to Ford only because of its superior “geographic consistency” in the United States. Its dealership network is also consistently profitable, which gives participants little reason to slight the brand. Customers also hold Toyota in high regard, largely due to its reputation for superior reliability.
Toyota seems confident going into 2019, with Hollis’ only major concerns being the uncertainties surrounding global trade. But that’s nothing new. In December, Jim Lentz, chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, said the U.S. proposal to place a 25 percent tariff on imported cars would elevate vehicle prices and undercut sales. He expressed his hope that President Trump decides against any new industry-harming tariffs.