Toyota Motor is preparing a US$1bn marketing campaign to boost US sales in the fourth quarter and will also sell more hybrid models using the Prius name, a media report said.
“People briefed on the plans” told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) new Toyota president Akio Toyoda and top US executives presented the plan to dealers meeting in Las Vegas.
Toyoda, grandson of the company founder, has previously worked in the US and at one time was a senior executive at the now-doomed NUMMI joint venture plant with GM in California.
Toyota needs to revitalise its North American business after saying it expects to report a loss in its current fiscal year, which would be its second consecutive annual deficit, the WSJ noted.
A source said the allocated $1bn on marketing and advertising is 30% to 40% more than Toyota usually spends in the quarter and will include lease, loan rate and dealer advertising subsidies plus other customer incentives.
“We are going to take advantage in the fourth quarter” by spending big on marketing and ramping up production to fill out inventory, Toyota Motor Sales spokesman Irv Miller said. “You can’t play defence forever. It’s time to play offence.”
Toyota also is considering offering new hybrid models larger and smaller than the current Prius, sources told the WSJ.
The Prius line would be marketed as a sub brand within the Toyota brand and, like Scion, would be sold through Toyota dealerships rather than offered through a separate network like luxury Lexus.
Miller said “it is not inconceivable that Prius could outsell the Camry.”
Sources told the WSJ the Las Vegas meeting in a Venetian resort conference room was much less lavish than previous events with no household-name entertainment and only one representative from each of the 1,300 dealerships. It also combined both Toyota and Lexus dealers.