Toyota dealership visit in suburban Tokyo

Suburb-Japan-Toyota-showroom (3)トヨタショールーム

http://www.flickr.com/photos/projectkobo/sets/72157612706079650/

Buying an automobile has never been an option to me since I moved from the US to Tokyo.  Why would I want a car?  Trains and buses are so cheap, they are everywhere, runs on time, clean, safe.  Taxis aren’t so expensive.  If I needed to drive somewhere for some reason, I would rent a nice car for US$100.00 a day. If I had a car, in addition to the payment for the car itself, I would have to pay extra US$150.00 per month for parking space at our condo.  The annual auto insurance fee and taxes aren’t exactly cheap either.

So when my husband said to me, hey, let’s visit the Toyota dealership next door, when we were hanging out at a diner, I first said, why??  He said he just wanted to check out the current model and get some catalogues.  I reluctantly agreed.  I am NOT interested in stuff that’s completely unneccessary in our lives, let alone stuff that’s un-environmental.

But I decided to put on my researcher’s hat and enjoy the visit.  And I really did!

Come to think of it, I purchased cars 5 times in my life, all in the US.  I purchased brand new cars twice, through automobile dealership.  They were Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra.  I haven’t had a car since 1991.  Although my husband and I had no intention of buying any car right now, the experience was fascinating for me.

The sales guy was good.  He was good at drawing out information from us, good at explaining things.  We had no intention of staying at all, but he got us to be seated and made us fresh coffee, and we had a nice leisurely conversation about how owning car would help our lives.  At first, I was looking around for cues for Toyota sustainability story, but what caught my attention was features for elderly and handicapped.  I suddenly remembered my mother-in-law who lives with us.  Her sister who lives in other region of Japan can’t walk much anymore.  Although my mother-in-law is healthy and takes great care of all of us now, I saw that the day of owning an automobile might come after all, even though it may be a few years down the road.  My interest level jumped then.

I wanted to see how the sales rep will steer us, and with my husband, he talked about the features of their van, and when I asked questions about features for taking care of elderly and handicapped, and about sustainability issues, he gave me good information.

From the way he talked, I realized that most of the people coming in to their dealership are mainly concerned with getting the value for the money.  He focused on how high the resale price was for Prius, and how much gas it saves.  It reminded me of the kind of talk that are so ubiquitus with Toyota managers.  When we talked about sustainability issues about facilities, we came down to efficiency.  It is what the Toyota buyers would demand.  I guess people who cares most about design, style and coolness would go to sexy brands.

The dealership showroom was clean, well organized, friendly, helpful.  Kid’s area to keep the small children entertained.  Nice drinks.  Not ornate, not showy, but then maybe that fits the Toyota brand.

The sales rep managed to get my husband’s business card at the end, and even our home address.  And guess what?  At about 6:30 PM of the same day, he dropped by our home to deliver a quote for Prius!!  When I said to my husband, you were focusing on Highace (van), but he brough the quote for Prius?  He answered, yeah, but you were only asking about Prius and said for our family, Highace would not be practical.  He’s a good sales rep.  He knows who manages the family bank account.  Actually, I don’t manage our family bank account.  We do it the American style, which is husband taking care of that.  In Japan, wives take care of family finance, and anytime a family makes big investment, it’s always the wife who is the final decision maker.

I enjoyed the visit to automobile dealership so much, I am ready to visit Honda, Nissan, BMW, Audi dealerships, since these are other ones that are doing so well here now.  Their brand stories are very different from Toyota too.  I wonder if my husband will come with me??

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