NADA 2019: Toyota Promises Dealers More Utility Vehicles, Plans to Ignore EVs

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Jan 29, 2019

    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.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Jan 29, 2019

    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

  • Chris P Bacon I don't care either way, the employees have the right to organize, and I'm never going to buy a VW. But.... It would be interesting if the media (HINT HINT) would be able to provide a detailed look at what (if anything) the VW workers gain by unionizing. There will be dues to pay. How much? I bet the current policies, pay and benefits mirror other auto companies. When all is said and done an the first contract signed, my money is on the UAW to be he only ones who really come out ahead. That leads into my next comment. Once a union is voted onto the property, it is almost impossible to get rid of them. Even if the membership feels the union doesn't have their best interests in mind, the hurdles to get rid of them are too high. There were a lot of promises made by the UAW, even if they don't deliver, they'll be in Chattanooga even if the membership decides they made a mistake.
  • 1995 SC How bout those steel tariffs. Wonder if everyone falls into the same camp with respect to supporting/opposing them as they did on the auto tariffs a few weeks ago. Doubt it. Wonder Why that would be?
  • Lorenzo Nice going! They eliminated the "5" numbers on the speedometer so they could get it to read up to 180 mph. The speed limit is 65? You have to guess one quarter of the needle distance between 60 and 80. Virtually every state has 55, 65, and 75 mph speed limits, not to mention urban areas where 25, 35, and 45 mph limits are common. All that guesswork to display a maximum speed the driver will never reach.
  • Norman Stansfield Automation will make this irrelevant.
  • Lorenzo Motor sports is dead. It was killed by greed.