Japan’s number one vehicle manufacturer has enjoyed considerable gains in recent years, with new figures just released confirming that this year will be no exception. As Toyota sees ever more rapidly expanding global production growth, its UK strategy is turning increasingly towards the fleet market.

Toyota expects its North American production output to increase over 30% by 2006, as sales for its products increase in that market at the expense of domestic brands. During the first half of this year the company saw its production increase by 3.1% in Japan and over 15% in some of its other markets. Overall, its global production was up by 7.6% and the company remained one of the few manufacturers in Europe to remain consistently profitable, with its UK built Avensis model even being exported back for import sale in Japan.

These production increases worldwide have been largest where the company’s sales are growing fastest. Toyota is capitalising on such gains with a renewed move into the European fleet sector, which continues to offer the fastest growing new source of vehicle sales in that region.

In the UK, Toyota has opened a network of 90 dealership-based business centres, through which it is driving new company car sales. By providing staff with a dedicated fleet focus, local contacts and links can be established to help drive fleet sales in the area. The centres also focus on commercial vehicles, employing commercial vehicle demonstrators, and staff with specialist knowledge in this area.

The Toyota Business Centres are now fully operational and offer fleets a minimum of three commercial vehicle demonstrators as well as car demonstrators. The centres also provide an out-of-hours contact facility, office support and access to a local business database.

By establishing such grass-roots presence and accessibility, Toyota hopes to boost its presence in the UK company car sector, which has more traditionally been the preserve of Vauxhall and Ford.

With new car sales remaining stagnant across Europe, an increased presence in the fleet market will serve the company well, boosting its already impressive sales performance in Europe still further with new gains.

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