Started in 1997, the Toyota Media Thanksgiving Party has become an institution of sorts, deliberately differentiating itself from the rest of the year-end parties organized by other car manufacturers. Much as there is merit in celebrating the end of the year, TMPC saw it fit to give thanks to the press by starting each year with a bang. And rightly so, as recent history has shown that Toyota has a lot to be thankful for in the last six years.
This year's party became an opportunity once again for TMPC to sing praises for its highly successful performance in 2007. This time, the whole event has transcended from merely just being a party: it has became solid proof that Toyota is well on its way to staying on top, and a chance for the company to inform the media about this fact.
Providing a highlight to the evening's festivities was the announcement that Toyota officially set record-high sales of over 45,000 units in 2007, a feat never before achieved in the history of the Philippine auto industry.
This is based on reports from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI), which stated that TMPC registered total year-to-date sales of 45,091 units in 2007. This puts Toyota in a favorable position with 38.2 percent market share and an 18 percent growth compared to previous year, enabling TMPC to finally surpass the pre-Asian Financial Crisis sales record of 41, 801 units achieved in 1996.
In his welcome remarks, TMP Vice Chairman Alfred Ty mentioned several record-breaking sales milestones that Toyota was able to reach in 2007, namely: breaching the 500,000 units sales mark since the company's start of operations in 1996; recording the highest sales in a month with 5,000 units sold in December; garnering four out of the country's top 5 best-selling vehicles; and finally, ending the year with the company's 6th consecutive Triple Crown.
The Triple Crown continues to be Toyota's feather on its cap, as for the past six years, TMPC has consecutively captured top spot in both the passenger car and the commercial vehicle segments, as well as overall leader in total vehicle sales.
This is no mean feat, as competing manufacturers continue to dish out new models to challenge Toyota's dominance in the Philippine market.
For his part, TMP President Hiroshi Ito was all smiles as he acknowledged the continued support of the motoring press and saying that for this year, we can "expect aggressive product improvements and timely introduction, more innovative and exciting media activities, more happy and satisfied Toyota owners."
Mr. Ito also said that they will be continue to challenge the industry and themselves by targeting 10 percent growth, on the basis that the industry is forecasted to achieve 6 percent growth for 2008.
"While it will no doubt be a more challenging year, we also have a greater reason to celebrate as it will be TMP's 20th anniversary. Thus, all efforts will be geared towards fortifying our 20 years of leadership in the automotive industry and 20 years of providing products and services that will help Toyota owners get more out of life."
Toyota's success in the Philippines ultimately mirrors its rise as an automotive superpower in the global arena. Recent reports on production figures for 2007 show that Toyota Motor Corp. has finally overtaken General Motors Corp. to become the world's biggest automaker in terms of units produced.
Toyota's manufacturing output grew by 5.3 percent from the previous year, a total of 9,497,754 units across the world. This figure includes vehicles made by subsidiaries such as Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd. GM, on the other hand, produced 9,285,000 units last year, a 1.1 percent growth from 2006.
"Toyota's rise to the top of the automobile industry puts an end to GM's 76-year reign as the world's leading producer of automobiles. GM replaced Ford Motor Co. as the top automaker in 1931," according to a report in the Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 3, 2008).
The report pointed out further that it has taken Toyota 70 years since its establishment in 1937 to climb to the top of the production tree. Just a little over ten years ago, Toyota's global production was more than 3 million units behind GM.
In the United States, Toyota inched past Ford to rank as the second-biggest player behind GM as early as the first half of 2007. Both GM and Ford continue to lose money in North America.
THE IMV SUCCESS STORY
Part of this success can be traced to Toyota's IMV project in 2002. The Innovative International Multi-Purpose Vehicle Project was initiated by Toyota to create an optimized global manufacturing supply system for pickup trucks and multipurpose vehicles to satisfy market demand in more than 140 countries worldwide.
This was borne of the fact that changing trends and mindsets of consumers in the automotive market require a fresh new approach to delivering more appealing vehicles to meet 21st Century customer demands for high levels of durability and comfort.
The IMV Project represents an unprecedented approach under a "Made by Toyota" banner that draws fully on the resources and potential of outside-Japan global production and supply bases for both vehicles and components.
It is also remarkable for fact that production will start almost at the same time at its four main production bases of Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina and South Africa, which will supply vehicles to countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania, Latin America and the Middle East.
This includes the production of such major components as diesel engines in Thailand, gasoline engines in Indonesia and manual transmissions in the Philippines and India, and their supply to the countries charged with vehicle production.
Five years after the IMV Project was initiated, more people are now enjoying the Innova Minivan, the Vigo/Hi-Lux pickup truck, and the Fortuner SUV. The Toyota Innova is the Philippines' number one best-selling vehicle, and the Fortuner sport utility vehicle is at the number four spot.
Despite this continued success, TMPC remains steadfast in its commitment to producing quality cars and good customer service, attributes that will serve them well as against just focusing on the numbers game of "who's No. 1."
In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Toyota Motors Philippines First Vice President for Marketing and Sales Daniel Isla said there has been no pressure from headquarters to take the top spot, but they "gave us specific targets and figures for market share. It doesn't matter to TMC what rank we're in as long as we're able to meet our targets."
Jumpstarting Toyota's campaign for continued leadership in 2008, the company unveiled the all new 2008 Toyota Corolla Altis.
TMPC believes that with this new iteration of the world's best-selling car and its most popular car line in history, TMPC will be well on its way to its 7th Triple Crown.