Toyota, who up until a couple of years ago was a fat cat swimming in cash, was caught sleeping at the switch after two years of red ink. The job of putting the keys of a new car in the hands of a buyer has become more daunting.
To drive showroom traffic, Toyota, who in the past did not have to rely heavily on extra marketing to consumers, is getting ready to throw one billion dollars into a concerted effort to get buyers into its showrooms. The billion dollar package will help make Toyota attractive to buyers by subsidizing leases and loan rates and adding a new array of customer incentives.
Toyota is concerned about recent sales figures and is obviously anxious about getting consumers reacquainted with some of its wares.
Sales of both Scion and Lexus have been hard hit so far this year. Scion sales have been down 51% in the first eight months of the year, while Lexus sales are down 30%. To add to the angst, BMW is breathing down Lexus' neck to become the top selling luxury brand in the US.
Toyota, who doesn't usually hit many foul balls, is concerned at the slow sales of its Venza wagon with under 35,000 sold since its release earlier this year. The Toyota Venza ,which was created exclusively for the North American market, will probably be pushed hard through fourth quarter advertising.
The good news at Toyota is the strong sales being exhibited by their fair haired child, the Toyota Prius. So confident is Toyota that the Prius will only gain more market share in the future, some executives are saying it can outsell the Toyota Camry eventually. In short, the company is blueprinting major growth of the model.
At a sales conference in Las Vegas it was announced that Toyota will use the Prius name on more hybrid models in its U.S. lineup. Executives said the name Prius would be attached to 'a family of models' using similar hybrid powertrains.