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Toyota is transforming the new vehicle purchase and ownership experience in New Zealand with the introduction of its "Drive Happy Project".
The project pioneers a new way of doing business with private, business, fleet and lease customers and is part of the changing face of mobility world-wide.
"Our way of business needs to evolve to align with our customers' expectations," said Alistair Davis, the CEO of Toyota New Zealand.
"We want to put the pleasure back into buying a brand-new vehicle," said Mr Davis. "We are taking a more customer-centric approach to car buying and the entire ownership experience."
Mr Davis said the vehicle selling process had not changed much in the last 50 years, yet today the majority of customers were using online tools to research options prior to their purchase.
"We're not alone in having made new vehicle purchases a drawn-out affair that takes the gloss off the experience," said Mr Davis. "We've observed and listened to customer feedback and are re-shaping the purchase experience."
Toyota-commissioned research found several likes and dislikes about the current industry-wide buying experience.
The most common concern was price negotiation and never being sure if you got the best deal. While the research also found the right vehicle for the buyer's needs was more important than the best price.
Toyota will now offer the same transparent pricing in all their stores, nationwide. Prices will now be haggle-free. Toyota will also offer a wider selection of vehicles from three nationwide hubs to remove any pressure to buy from a limited selection of available vehicles at the dealership.
Customers should feel positive about buying the right vehicle. No business wants to be known for its 'hard selling' tactics, says Mr. Davis, but sadly that is the reputation that comes with a traditional car dealership.
"Our research has told us people want product specialists and not just commission focussed sales people," said Mr Davis. "We are putting considerable focus on training our people to offer hospitality and a great customer experience."
Sales people have been re-trained as Vehicle Consultants, Product Experts, or the Store Concierge to help customers select the best vehicle for their needs.
"Buyers have the power in new vehicle purchases," said Mr Davis. "They'll buy when they are ready. We have to make the process as easy, transparent and welcoming as possible."
Traditionally test drives are a 10-minute drive around the block without the opportunity for the customer to properly evaluate the vehicle prior to buying. Under the Drive Happy Project, flexible test drive options will be available to customers, to ensure customers get the best opportunity to test a range of vehicles in the conditions that suit them.
Toyota will also offer a seven-day money back option, as long as conditions are met, for customers who are not satisfied with their final purchase.
"Customers have told us that when they are at the car buying stage, the majority of them begin their searches online," says Mr. Davis. "We have redesigned our website to help customers in this initial research phase."
Most of Toyota's vehicles can now be customised online to individual requirements, as well as being able to add accessories, calculate finance options and view all warranty information.
The Drive Happy Project will also include the Toyota Care Service Advantage package with every new Toyota vehicle sold through the Authorised Toyota Network. Customers will be rewarded with an extended warranty at the end of their first three years of ownership if they are regularly servicing at a Toyota Store.
For more information Toyota are encouraging people to visit their local Toyota store.