Straight Shooter Bob Carter Talks Toyota Sales
Senior vice president for automotive operates at Toyota Motor Sales USA Bob Carter recently sat down with Automotive News to discuss Toyota sales and, in a larger picture, automotive sales in general. What many like about Carter and his outlook on sales trends is how much of a straight shooter he is. He doesn’t beat around the bush or paint a flowery picture—he tells it like it is.
And how is it? Not bad, according to blunt Bob. While he doesn’t expect Toyota’ sales to grow much over the next two years, he also doesn’t expect them to drop. He expects to see a plateau industry-wide rather. And although he made these comments just a few days before Toyota reported a 10% decline in sales over March of last year, his words are probably still likely accurate.
“We’re talking about leveling out at a historic, record pace for the car business,” remarked Carter. “We’re really bullish. While there may not be a lot of growth left in the market, right now is a great time to be in it.”
All in all, Toyota manages to keep production in line with demand, specifically in the segments concerning cars, crossovers, and SUVs. Its production of trucks is a little hairier, reports Bob, as Toyota struggles to keep up with demand. The Tacoma, for example, is currently set up for about 300,000 units a year, with three production shifts in place. Even so, Bob doesn’t think that’ll be enough to meet demand.
Carter also gave his take on stair-step incentives, a practice that Toyota used to employ to motivate dealerships. (In essence, dealers might earn a $500 incentive for the first 10 units of a specific model sold in a month, $1,000 for each additional up to 20, and $2,000 for any beyond that. The point, of course, is to get dealers to push for more sales each month so that an automaker can then turn around and boast higher sales.)
But higher sales aren’t important necessarily, not to Carter. “Customers don’t care if we sell 400,000 or four,” he explained. “They only care about the one they’re buying.” In essence, customers are looking for quality products, not just a manufacturer that can say it’s sold the most. And as Toyota is always in a tight race with Volkswagen to be the world’s largest automaker, that’s an important note to make—especially given Volkswagen’s large scandal concerning its diesel-powered vehicles.
A final thought from Carter: the next 24 months are probably going to be consistent in terms of sales—but what happens after that? Well, that’s just too “murky” to tell right now.
News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)