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Tue 10 May 2011 11:09 AM

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Japan quake slowdown to hurt Toyota sales in UAE

Franchise holder Al Futtaim Motors to miss yearly sales target, booked 33% growth in 2010

Japan quake slowdown to hurt Toyota sales in UAE
Japan’s March 11 quake and tsunami hobbled work at Toyota’s plants, disrupting supply to showrooms around the world

Al Futtaim Motors, the UAE franchise holder for Toyota, said
it expects to miss its 2011 sales target after the automaker slowed production
after Japan’s record earthquake.

Japan’s March 11 quake and tsunami hobbled work at Toyota’s
plants, disrupting supply to showrooms around the world and leaving them unable
to meet demand.

“This year, we were really looking to go through the 100,000
unit barrier [but] given the events in Japan and production slowdowns I don’t
think we will quite hit that mark,” Simon Firth, managing director of Al
Futtaim Motors, told Arabian Business.

“Toyota Motor Corporation is saying to us some of the
vehicles are back to normal production already, some will be back June or July
and some will take longer.”

The UAE-based company had a “great year” in 2010 and said car
sales remained strong in the first quarter, allowing Al Futtaim to corner 40
percent of the Gulf state’s new car sales market.

“We sold over 66,000 Toyotas last year and we are about 33
percent up and we were delighted with that performance,” Firth said.

“In the first four months of the year we have sold over
30,000 units, which is 45 percent up on the previous year. But the great thing
is market share has been over 40 percent in every single this year,” he said.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, has also been impacted
by a series of global recalls, the most recent of which in February impacted
2,246 of its luxury Lexus vehicles in the UAE.

Al Futtaim said the recalls had not slowed sales figures in the
UAE, which saw 17 percent growth in the first quarter.

“We are very happy with that… particularly when we have
recalls going on, which doesn’t appear to have dented the performance at all,”
Firth said.

In line with its growing sales, Firth said the company had
planned to invest a third of its profits back into expanding its network.

The investment has already seen the opening of a new
preparation centre in Jebel Ali, which has the capacity to process up to
150,000 units a year. It will also open two new showrooms, invest further in its
Abu Dhabi showroom and refurbish its dealerships in the northern emirates.

“We
have a huge investment programme underway,” said Firth.

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