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Happy Days!

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Last year Toyota New Zealand launched a new platform in the way Toyota does business – the Drive Happy Project. This Project has been one of the most comprehensive rethinks of a business model the car retailing business has seen, certainly in New Zealand and possibly globally.

It has not just been about the haggle free up-front transparent driveaway pricing or having a more friendly demonstrator scheme. Neither is it just having a more interactive web site where customers can build their own vehicles, nor just a more comprehensive approach to relationship building with our customers. It is not just the move to having product experts and concierges and ambassadors offering industry-leading levels of hospitality nor holding new vehicle inventory in central hubs. And neither is it just the integration of one computer system across the entire Toyota network – a massive undertaking, and foundational to the whole strategy.

Lots of car companies around the world have tackled individual ingredients of this change, but it is the Toyota Team in New Zealand that have combined all these into one recipe. The recipe was developed over a decade by a wide range of contributors across the Toyota family in New Zealand from Head Office to dealers and our finance arm, Toyota Financial Services. Toyota New Zealand CEO Alistair Davis says “It takes real insight and courage to set off on this type of journey: insight to understand that as customer change, we have to change and courage to move off a winning formula to a new business paradigm.

As we launched the Drive Happy Project we witnessed customers changing their habits dramatically: falling driver’s licence numbers, increased online shopping, the beginnings of mobility being sold as a service and a host of other shifts in our business. At the same time we just came off 30 years of market leadership, a market share double the #2 car company and six consecutive years of sales records.”

He said it was the entire Toyota Team who led the paradigm shift over the past decade , and thanked their insight and courage. He also acknowledged Toyota New Zealand, Toyota Financial Services and the Toyota Network who have spent endless hours turning this project into a reality stepping into a brave new world.

Since the Drive Happy Project launched (in April 2018) Toyota has been monitoring activity from its corporate website and helping customers navigate from a general web search to selecting and buying a car to see how many people are engaging with the new website, and subsequently how many are coming in to a store and taking a test drive.

Some of the metrics tell us that those who visited the new vehicle section of the website spent almost four minutes looking at the content, then went into more detail, selecting a model and customising it. This then transferred into people walking into our stores, and taking a test drive.

Obviously the best result was those that ended up purchasing. It shows us that customers are enjoying the research and the hassle-free purchase approach, doing most of their research prior to going to a store.

But the satisfaction has not simply stopped there, with many customers taking the time to tell us of their experience.

In a survey conducted last year (*Toyota Customer Radar Survey) 40 per cent of buyers surveyed said that the Drive Happy buying experience had played a role in their decision to purchase a Toyota over a competitor. Of the 60 per cent who said it had been no influence, said they were going to buy Toyota anyway.

Additionally, Deloittes tell us that around 90 per cent of prospects / enquiries come from people who have previously been online; the traditional walk-in or phone-in enquiry is now less than five percent each.

Here's a sample of what our customers have to say about their Toyota Drive Happy experience. To find out even more, take a look at their customer videos by heading over to www.toyota.co.nz/drive-happy-customers/

“As probably the only person who objected to the rort of “on road charges” may I congratulate Toyota on its new pricing policy. I’d like to acknowledge that it takes courage to change but please, rest assured, that this change is for the better. Congratulations to Toyota NZ and its GM for this principled move.”

“We originally didn’t even consider looking at Toyota but upon the advice of our son we considered them. Glad we did. We are rapt with our purchase and believe we have bought a quality vehicle that will give us problem free performance and excellent resale price when the time comes. We thought $50,000 was a lot to pay for a duffle bag but the free Hilux we got was worth it.”

“CONGRATULATIONS, well done for being the first to include ON ROAD COSTS into your published prices. ORC’s are just a way of car sellers getting a few extra bucks from their customers who have just spent thousands of dollars with them. They are an insult to the intelligence of the customer and must cause such a negative feeling to the purchaser. WELL DONE”

“Salesman was excellent...honest and not pushy and did not bag any other brand. He made the sale for us, compared to other competitor brand salespeople. Finance lady was also excellent. We felt we got very well looked after and treated without sales haggle by all. Best vehicle purchase experience to date. Farmlands discount, trade in and the finance all made this a highly competitive deal. Loving the new no haggle and pricing Toyota has now.”

“An enjoyable and stress free experience with friendly and informative answers to questions.”

“The car had sold itself before we went to the dealership. The Toyota no hassles approach to buying made things easy.”