Growing sales of Toyota vehicles in Thailand could see the kingdom become the world’s second-largest overseas market for Japan’s largest carmaker, a top Toyota Motor executive said.


According to the Nation newspaper, Akio Toyoda, the senior managing director of Toyota and grandson of the company’s founder, said while visiting Bangkok that the company expected to sell 200,000 cars and pick-up trucks in Thailand this year.


Despite its small car market, Thailand ranked third in foreign markets for Toyota last year due to the firm’s dominant share of the local market and it expects Thailand to surpass Australia in vehicle sales as it expands its market share.


According to the Nation, Toyota Motor Thailand increased its market share over the first two months of the year to 37% from last year’s 35.4%, according to industry figures.


Last year, Toyota’s top market outside Japan was the United States, where it sold 1.86 million vehicles. Australia came in second with 190,860 units, and Thailand was third with 188,748 vehicles sold. Globally, Toyota expects to sell six million vehicles this year.


Toyota said it had also chosen Thailand as the second country after Japan to introduce its customer relationship management system called e-CRB. TMT earlier this month appointed a general manager to tend to customer relationship building.


Toyoda reportedly said the company launched the e-CRB programme because the main policy of Toyota Motor was not merely to provide vehicles for customers, but also to fulfil a role to link vehicles, people and society.


The far-reaching influence that vehicles, people and society all have on each other will provide customers with a safer, more convenient and more enjoyable car ownership experience, he said, according to the Nation.


Under the e-CRB concept, which Toyota plans to expand worldwide, the company intends to provide services for everything related to a vehicle and its surroundings.


“In other words, our objective is to create total car-life support, which goes back to our original philosophy of ‘customer first’,” Toyoda said.


Through e-CRB, Toyota owners will be able to access a website called e-Toyotaclub, which tracks a car’s maintenance history, mileage, the number of years since it was purchased, and more. As part of the e-CRB programme in Japan, Toyota has introduced vehicles with onboard terminals that enable motorists to access information and dealer services while on the road. However, Toyota executives declined to reveal when this system would be introduced in Thailand.


Paiboon Wauquamdee, TMT’s executive vice president, said there were more than one million Toyotas on the road in Thailand. The company, he said, expects all 200,000 Toyota buyers this year to join the e-Toyotaclub.


TMT’s president, Ryoichi Sasaki, said the company hoped that the e-CRB project would draw it closer to customers.


“We hope the new system will become both ‘hi-tech’ and ‘hi-touch’,” he said, adding that the web-based service would also serve the growing number of young people buying cars.


“We recently introduced more vehicles for younger people, such as the Wish and the Vios. The average age of Toyota buyers in Thailand is the mid-30s. Several years ago maybe it was about 40 or 41 or 42. But [there is] no doubt we have gained more young customers,” he said, according to the Nation’s report.