By on January 28, 2019

While the closing day of the 2019 National Automobile Dealers Association meetup revolved around charitable opportunities, engineering equality in the workplace, and a talk from author, pro golfer, and USAF veteran Major Dan Rooney on the merits of personal accountability, the rest of the event focused more directly on the auto industry.

One of the larger announcements came from Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota North America’s Toyota division, who told dealers that his company intends to introduce 19 entirely new, redesigned, or refreshed vehicles over the next three years — focusing on utility models, but not ignoring cars. Toyota and Hollis are adamant that the brand can take advantage of other manufacturers abandoning sedan sales by both keeping them in its roster and continuing to improve them. Still, they acknowledge that SUVs and crossovers are essential in wrangling today’s buyers.

The secret, according to Toyota, is having a diverse lineup. However, pure electrics (and maybe minivans) don’t make the list, at least until sales data makes a better case for them. 

“We’re still committed to being a full-line manufacturer,” Hollis told Automotive News in a brief interview after his speech. However, while the company’s fleshed-out lineup will include some new hybrids before 2022 (including the Corolla and Prius AWD-e), it plans to wait on battery-only models. “The equations around electric aren’t making money,” he explained.

Hollis also said that the brand is on a mission to improve dealership profitability, which he described as roughly even when comparing last year to 2017. He believes 2018 will end up being among the brand’s top 5 years for dealership profitability, once everything is tabulated.

Automotive News claims Toyota is among the most-liked brands in the industry, which rings true. We recently examined Cox Automotive’s assessment of which company’s dealers scored the highest and Toyota bested every mainstream manufacturer, losing to Ford only because of its superior “geographic consistency” in the United States. Its dealership network is also consistently profitable, which gives participants little reason to slight the brand. Customers also hold Toyota in high regard, largely due to its reputation for superior reliability.

Toyota seems confident going into 2019, with Hollis’ only major concerns being the uncertainties surrounding global trade. But that’s nothing new. In December, Jim Lentz, chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, said the U.S. proposal to place a 25 percent tariff on imported cars would elevate vehicle prices and undercut sales. He expressed his hope that President Trump decides against any new industry-harming tariffs.

[Image: Toyota]

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42 Comments on “NADA 2019: Toyota Promises Dealers More Utility Vehicles, Plans to Ignore EVs...”


  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Man Toyo is gonna make a mint on AWD Prii.Like Al Pacino Willie Bank on it.

  • avatar
    arach

    This is the right move for toyota.

    Some people will scream that you “need to get in the EV game” but Toyota is not, will not, shouldn’t be an “cutting edge innovative company”. They are more like the “tried and true type”.

    So let others build the pathways and once its “mainstream”, then Toyota can jump aboard.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Pure EVs still bring Range Anxiety to most non-believers. Prii do not.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Fact is Toyota admits that one of the huge reasons that Prius sales are way off is because it is far and away the #1 vehicle traded in on Tesla Model 3. If Toyota had a half-assed EV sold for outrageous prices they probably wouldn’t have lost all of those buyers.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          Scottdude

          Prius sales have been falling by 20% a year for 7 years. The Tesla model 3 has just started being mass-produced 8 months ago.

          • 0 avatar
            arach

            The prius was like the Chevy Avalanche-

            Incredibly innovative and game changing, but its because they tapped a tremendously ignored market.

            Once that ignored market was catered to by other manufacturers and more mainstream vehicles, the Prius / Avalanche nolonger had its place.

            When the Avalanche came out, 4 door luxotrucks with excess storage for “I need a truck” people who don’t need a truck were not really a thing yet. Now they are THE thing.

            When the Prius came out, highly efficient greenmobiles for uppity people who are better than you weren’t available. Now pretty much every manufacturer has a handful of amazingly efficient hybrids.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            https://insideevs.com/toyota-admits-losing-sales-to-tesla/ Well it isn’t limited to the Prius but that fact that the Prius is the #1 car traded in on a Model 3 should be a wake up call for Toyota.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I just don’t see any significant demand for electric vehicles either, so way waste money developing them. The 4 door sedan market is getting smaller, but with less companies making them, the ones who stay in with a good product should do well.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      True, there is very little demand for EVs. But I think they should be available for those who want them, albeit without a subsidy paid for by the tax payers.

      • 0 avatar
        vehic1

        As more range and more models become available, sales of EVs increase – regardless of grumbling from the old school. What do you think the “oil depletion allowance” is, if not a huge gift to the oil industry, from the taxpayers?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          A huge gift to the oil industry where 96% of the driving population derives a benefit from, as opposed to only the grand total of 4% which comprise EVs and Hybrid buyers and their $7500 subsidy.

          Perspective. Keep it in perspective.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Nor do you have to bribe people to buy oil and gasoline. They buy them no matter the price. They fuel the world for very good reason. Hydrocarbons are responsible for the industrial revolution and modern…everything. Hydrocarbons are the greatest anti-poverty force ever discovered. They are a singular blessing, not a curse, despite the belief of idealistic and the naive.

            They pollute, yes. It can be mitigated. Wealthy countries have the ability to do this. The air and water in the US are cleaner than they have been at any time since industrialization. Accidents happen as well. We clean them up, because we are rich and the industry provides billions and billions in tax revenue to the treasury.

            Electric car proponents are like solar energy proponents. “We just need to educate people and get another subsidy and wait for the next tech breakthrough.” And on and on it goes, decade after decade.

            I favor choice. Buy an electric and enjoy it. I may buy on someday as well, if it makes sense. Nothing against them. Just please do not ask me to help you pay for it. Also, don’t let it make you too smug, or people may mistake you for a Canadian.

        • 0 avatar
          Tigerguy

          The oil depletion allowance IS NOT A GIFT. It is an income tax deduction that is the counterpart of the depreciation allowance EVERY OTHER business, including windfarms, solar power, etc., gets to take for capital investment. Whoever told you it is a “gift” has very little knowledge or understanding of the income tax code.

    • 0 avatar

      Watch Model 3 sales. Does it ring the bell?

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      65Couvair

      Last year in the U.S.
      20% of buyers bought Pickups
      8% bought a Luxury vehicle
      3% bought minivans
      2% bought BOF SUVs
      2% bought sports cars
      2% bought a plug-in vehicle
      At what point is demand significant?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Smart strategy. They get to sit and watch to see how far EVs go, and if they need to, they buy (or partner) their way into the business versus building it from the ground up.

    And if they decide to go the latter route, guess who is prime for a takeover or “partnership of equals”?

    Tesla.

    You heard it here first.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Maybe they could teach Tesla how to screw a vehicle together properly (and not in tents).

      I enjoy RedLine reviews (among many) on YouTube but the guy bought a Model 3 and it had paint quality that wouldn’t have been acceptable on a Yaris let alone a “premium” EV. Of course he had 1000 excuses for the defects in assembly…

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Toyota & Tesla tried partnering once already. (Rav4 EV) Toyota’s insistance on bringing in hybrid technologies limited the space fir batteries. Ended up with a $50K vehicle with a 50 mile range. Only 2,600 were sold before the project was discontinued.

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        I’ll add the the RAV4 EV is also HIDEOUS. I see one around my office often (I work not far from Toyota’s Torrance offices). The other day I saw it on the back of a flatbed, front end bashed in. Just the cost of replacing the EV-specific front clip probably totaled it out. Good riddance.

  • avatar
    ROCKIN RICHIE

    Jeepers.. wasn’t it just a few years ago that the grid collapsed in Ohio because of a several day heat wave? How in the heck can the grid support more than just a few people charging their 4,000 pound vehicles? There is much “deferred maintenance” so the wheels get their bonusses.

    • 0 avatar
      forward_look

      Charge them at night.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Though I’m pretty agnostic about EVs and find great amusement with their most strident zealots…

      I gotta ask if gas station pumps aren’t just as vulnerable to grid crashes.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Depends on what part of the country you live in.

        In my area, where power fluctuations are common, most businesses have a standby AC generator to power the pumps and the store.

        Many home owners also keep at least one AC generator on the premises.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          “Many home owners also keep at least one AC generator on the premises.”

          Wish I could run my Generex from off premises.
          DAMN, it’s loud.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yup. I’ve got a 15KW Generac, and it is LOUD! When it runs, you can hear and feel it in the next county.

            My fave is my old Honda EU-6500is. Sweet!

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            If I had to use mine more often I’d try to cobble a better muffler onto that dinky little exhaust pipe after checking with an ASE buddy about possible over-restriction.

            But it does its job very well.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I pointed the exhaust upwards, toward the sky, so the neighbors would hear less of it if it ran at night.

            The Honda is superquiet at 60db at halfpower.

            I used to have a Wacker G70, bought used, and it was loud but in a kind of low, rumbling way. Ditto with my old Ingersol-Rand generator.

            When I quit working in 2016 I sold all of my stuff, Generators, Compressors, the whole kit and kaboodle to a friend who is in the same business I was in.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        You can always run a generator if you have gasoline or diesel, and gas pumps don’t contribute much to overloading a grid. I used to live in California. We had brownouts whenever the sun poked through the marine layer too early in the day. For some reason every mention of a power plant in the paper was a celebration of an ‘ugly’ or ‘dangerous’ plant closure while this was going on. EVs in California are about as smart as everything else they do.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Direct Power has a nice selection of dual fuel, and even triple fuel portable standby AC generators.

          My Honda will run on gasoline or LPGas. The Generac only on gasoline. The Wacker, Ingersoll and Kubota were all diesels.

          But the versions that can run on Gasoline/LPGas/natgas are the most versatile.

          The house where we live now, in town, came with an external natgas tap that feeds the outdoor Charglow gas grill, and a tap for an AC generator, portable or fixed.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    If anyone at Toyota is listening, may we please get a small commercial van along the lines of Transit Connect and ProMaster City? I could have a really good use case for such a vehicle, but I’m not interested in owning a Ford or FCA vehicle.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    We know a new Highlander is one of the models. A long overdue all new 4Runner had better be on that list, too. I suspect something to fill the void created when the discontinued the awful Venza will be as well.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Are we getting a new GS sedan or not? I’m guessing no, but I haven’t heard anything official and Toyota did just come out with a new TNGA Crown.

  • avatar
    jatz

    This is so admirably rational that it gives me great respect for the ability of Toyota’s senior management to keep Akio in a sandbox.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Truely amazing that they are going to keep their head in the sand. I saw an article that says that they admit that they have lost a lot of Prius customers to Tesla Model 3 and so far people are paying prices that Toyota certainly could have made a pretty penny on and sold quite a few if it had a Lexus Badge and even more money if it was a high riding wagon.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    So Toyota is waiting to see if electrics catch on. Cool. I suppose they are waiting to see if Full-sized trucks are a fad as well before upgrading the Tundra. That’s cool. And maybe sports cars are a passing trend so why actually build a Supra…just slap a badge on it. Worked for Chrysler with the Mitsubishi Starion. And that 86, why design a motor for it. Seriously, what does Toyota do better than anyone else anymore outside of resale which has more to do with Baby Boomers owning GM X bodies back in the day than Toyota products being in any way exceptional


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