Toyota Distributors Under Fire

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

Back in the day, Toyota used local businessmen to find dealers and deal with local politics. ToMoCo eventually bought its distributors, save Southeast Toyota in Florida and Gulf States Toyota in Houstonm (who still control prices, model mix and availability in 10 states). In the '90s, Southeast shelled-out more than $100m to dealers who claimed the distributor was forcing them out of business. CNNMoney reports that Gulf States is now under the gun for "improperly encouraging" executives from a large dealer group to leave their company and buy a lucrative dealership in Dallas. Toyota continues to defend its distributors, claiming they "bring a culture of innovation, responsiveness and agility." What's more, consumer prices "are the same" or "even more competitive" than prices in regions where there are no distributors. If there's anyone who can give your perspective on dealing with a Toyota distributor, please contact us.

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  • Windswords Windswords on Feb 29, 2008

    As far as I know they still do. I used to work for Southeast Toyota (the company Jim Moran founded). This was five years ago. They would bring Toyotas into their processing center in Jacksonville, FL and put in their own leather seating, door panels, radios, wheels, etc. It's litterally a manufacturing plant. I was told by another employee that they would cut off the basic seat fabric and re-upholster the seats in leather. The whole thing seemed terribly inefficient to me but I guess they made a ton of money doing it. They also own the nations best performing Lexus dealership in South Florida.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Feb 29, 2008

    Gulf States used to do a lot of the same stuff. I suspect they still would given the chance of a hot car. I sold GST a bunch of computer equipment, but I don't know about dealing with them from a car dealer perspective. They run like a small family business in many ways, only bigger and wealthier. The employees I dealt with all liked the Friedkens.

  • Alexeck Alexeck on Feb 29, 2008

    That explains the Florida Prius I bought that had some nonsense car care package on the sticker (I think it was an $800 option). I hope Toyota rethinks this inefficient distribution model. . Curious, does anyone know if Lexus' are distributed the same way?

  • Anonymous Anonymous on May 25, 2011

    [...] I am going to throw a wrench into this thread. It is my understanding that one could NOT order a specific vehicle from Toyota......what happens is that you place your "preference" and a distributer (if your in an area that uses a distributer like here in Florida) will find a vehicle close to your desire that is already at the port or on the way from Japan, often times adding or subtracting certain options when it gets here, then sends it to the dealer as close as possible to the customers wishes, hoping the customer then follow through with the purchase. The distributer can change/add some options, but not others. So the vehicle presented to you may be 80% or more with the things you want, but maybe not exact. I was told all this by a dealer and it seems to be true considering all I have read in this forum. The factory just does not have time to do custom orders. JM Toyota Distributors Under Fire | The Truth About Cars [...]