The news that hit Thursday night January 21, 2010 can be viewed in a lot of ways by dealers. First, for Toyota dealers the major concern isn’t getting the unsafe vehicles off the road / or managing time in their service departments to fix all the warranty work. The major issue for those who have been asleep at the wheel is what percent of the 2010 vehicles – namely Camry / Corolla / RAV4 – that are on their lots currently waiting to be sold have the CTS gas pedals on them. If the in stock units waiting to be sold have a CTS pedal, then they are going to be affected by the upcoming recall and customers could, and some who are smart will, be turned off from these vehicles. In a count on Friday January 22, 2010 at one of Strong LLC’s dealerships – only 3 out of 10 RAV4’s did not have the CTS pedal and would not be affected by the recall. This dealership had service techs outside crawling in every vehicle checking the wording on the side of the pedal in order to see which vehicle could be sold. You see, there are 2 manufacturers of accelerator pedals in these Toyota models and it is apparent at this point that the vehicles with the CTS pedals are the ones that are going to be recalled. The fact that this recall is affecting 2010 in stock units is one that could have a very negative outcome on Toyota sales as we start 2010.
The opportunity for Toyota dealers – New 2011 Camry’s – should be on the ground in 45 days and the problem should be corrected on these units. This creates a perfect trade cycle opportunity for you to take customers out of what could be perceived as an unsafe vehicle and put them in a new one. Thus, creating a trade in that can be fixed under warranty and added a vehicle that can be retailed as a used unit. Toyota dealers need to communicate information that is passed on by Toyota Motor Sales and be open and honest with their customers about the time frame on the repair, and also about the opportunity to put customers who may have experienced these problems in a TRAC or Toyota Rental Car.
The opportunity for Non-Toyota Dealers: YOU HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOR A LONG TIME. Honda & Nissan have a chance to immediately steal the most market share from Toyota. Chevy and Ford are next in line. Take this opportunity and run with it! Get a Camry that has been crashed or totaled out and park it on your lot, proudly making a display that can be a great talking point to customers. Banners, posters, literature, can all be used and dispersed to customers inside the walls of your dealership to immediately kill any cross comparison shopping. Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima can have major upswings in market share from Camry due to these circumstances. Take full advantage of the opportunity that you have, because there have not been many in Toyota’s history and you can promote your brand past one of the industry leaders if done quickly and effectively.
John Paul Strong
John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 140 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.