Toyota expects Amazon to start selling cars

As it launches its biggest ever UK ad campaign for the new C-HR vehicle, Toyota says the way people buy cars will change over the coming years.

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Toyota’s GB marketing director Andrew Cullis says he wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon starts selling cars.

Speaking on the launch of its “biggest ever” UK ad campaign for Toyota’s new C-HR vehicle (pictured), Cullis suggested buying habits around cars are set to fundamentally change.

He told Marketing Week: “There’s no reason why Amazon won’t soon start selling cars. We do a lot of customer research and it’s clear a more simple ecommerce buying experience is what a lot of drivers crave.”

It’s a view shared by Matthew Franey, CEO of creative content agency Foxtrot Papa, who recently said Amazon’s acquisition of the Jeremy Clarkson-fronted TV show The Grand Tour is just the “first step” in a strategy to one day sell cars at the click of a button.

However, Cullis warns retailers must strike a balance between ease of purchase and offering the right level of customer service.

“There’s still a lot of people that like to make that connection with a car dealer and to obviously test drive the product first, so you’ll always need to have a balance. That’s something Toyota will always consider,” he explains.

READ MORE: Ford to ‘disrupt itself’ with focus on driverless cars and shuttle services

Catering to a changing driver

Toyota is a third-party partner of Uber, with its Prius model popular among the app’s taxi drivers. It has also piloted the Yuko Car Club in Ireland, which allows people to rent its hybrid cars by the hour.

Cullis believes the popularity of services such as Uber and short-term car rentals will mean fewer people actually buy cars in the future.

He explains: “There’s big changes to ownership afoot. Millennials are used to getting an Uber and renting phones, and I sense that will be the future for cars too.”

Maintaining ad spend despite uncertainty

A lot has been made over recent weeks of incoming US President Donald Trump’s desire to change the country’s trade deals with Asian countries such as China and Japan. While there is still uncertainty around the economic implications of how the UK activates Brexit.

Toyota’s Cullis admits the uncertainty “isn’t good” for the Japanese car manufacturer. He insists, however, brands shouldn’t reduce marketing spend in 2017 as a result.

He concludes: “We’re not reducing ad budgets, in fact, we’re maintaining media spend and the C-HR campaign is the biggest campaign we’ve ever launched in the UK, with big spots around The Voice and in cinemas around Trainspotting 2.

“The key thing for us is to make sure we spend as efficiently as possible in the right areas. Whatever ends up happening, we don’t expect to see a huge impact in how we go to market with our cars.”

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