Toyota SA CEO Andrew Kirby attributes this to brand loyalty.

Speaking at the recent Toyota State of the Motor Industry 2017 event last Tuesday, Kirby said that when the economy is struggling and consumers are being squeezed, they are more likely to go back to the brands they know and are used to.

“We’ve been very fortunate. Normally, in tough times, customers do move towards more established brand, more reliable brands and that has certainly been so for us,” he says, adding that the car manufacturer has been able to grow its market share and that has also introduced new products. The company has also launched a number of initiatives. One of them involves customising its responses to customers.

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“We’ve got a big range of initiatives to ensure to try to get much closer to our customers and do what they want us to do more quickly. You may ask how a big volume manufacturer can customise responses – it is possible,” he says.

He adds that Toyota dealers have also found innovative ways to respond to customer needs. It has without a doubt been a tough couple of years for the motoring industry. And with consumer confidence also being low, it means that consumers are being smart about their buying choices and thinking twice about making purchases. Kirby, who has been at the helm of Toyota for over a year now, has admitted it has certainly been an interesting time for the motoring industry.

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“We’ve certainly had a lot of disruptors in the industry around the world. So I think it’s a unique time to be in the motor industry globally,” he says. In terms of sales, Kirby said the South African market will continue to grow – unlike other markets. “Our customers still want to be mobile, still want to have access to the economy and still want to have freedom. A vehicle is a very important element in their lifestyles,” Kirby says.

Toyota has noted that it takes longer for dealers to close deals with customers than in the past and this is due to the current economic climate.Another trend that it has seen is that most people don’t necessarily want to own cars, but need a transport solution. In the future, the company predicts there will be a growing trend towards shared ownership and this is currently happening in developing markets.