Smackdown! Toyota Vs. Toyota Dealers
Thinking long-term (as always), Toyota wants its dealers to spend millions expanding showrooms, adding service bays and upgrading their architecture. Thinking short term (as always), Toyota dealers are contemplating the "Image USA II" plan and saying "not on my dime, Bub-san" [paraphrasing]. Automotive News [sub] reports that slumping sales are leading to some serious foot-dragging. "There's never a good time to do a facility modification," TMNA prez Jim Lenz insists. "It doesn't matter if it's two, five or 10 years from now; it will be more expensive than it is today." Toyota's stick: they're threatening not to renew franchises on older stores and offering just two-month franchise extensions to dealers slow to spend the cash. Toyota's carrot: better allocation of popular models. Some dealers say "more cars are the last thing I need." What's more, many just finished investing in Toyota's "Image USA I" plan; they don't relish spending another $1.5m to go to a totally different look. Dealers are telling Toyota: "show me the money." "GM and other brands offer… interest-free financing for their facility program to help you out," a suitably anonymous dealer reports. "But Toyota doesn't."