Last Updated
Monday 24 November 2014, 16:31 pm.
Botswana is Toyota country

In southern Africa, Toyota rules. It is easily identifiable from any angle and distance. In fact one can confidently say that anyone alive in Botswana who has ever been in a vehicle it must have been a Toyota. They are as popular as Radio Botswana (RB)1.
By Staff Writer Wed 26 Nov 2014, 04:44 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Botswana is Toyota country








Anyone who claims to have never listened to RB1  either by choice or default is, well, very untruthful to put it mildly. It has been said before and I will say it again - Botswana is Toyota country. Of the next 10 vehicles that will pass by any road you are currently traversing, it is impossible that a Toyota of any kind would not be among them. And that is a dare, provided you are in Botswana.So when you are a manufacturer of anything and your goods are more popular than yourself, a firm favourite of war lords, taxi operators and the Botswana government, then you know you are on point. But therein lays the catch, the fly in the ointment of an otherwise fine brew.

Well, Toyota has just that very annoying mosquito and it is in the form of their design language. Of late Toyotas seem bland at best and staid with seemingly no inspired outputs within their ranks whatsoever. Yes, they are selling units by the droves, but so are Mazda and Ford, Nissan and Chevrolet. Yes, they rely on their history and reputation as a sure bet against these other players but that alone won't convince everyone who is willing to part with their hard earned mullah. Let us take a quick lesson with something that all of us use day by day; cellphones.  Back in the 1990s Nokia was a giant personal phone maker. It was rolling out stuff that was both durable and reliable and it looked like nothing could stop them. Nobody knew about iphone or how good Samsung would turn out to be, never mind Blackberry, but right now they are the respective leaders of the handheld phone with Nokia trailing far below, especially with the youngsters who are the ones that use this stuff a lot.

So history therefore teaches us that an enviable reputation is a good place to start, but what good is a strong foundation when you don't build on it? You cannot go around boasting that I have laid the best foundation around while at the same time you haven't or aren't busy building a house. Things have changed dramatically in the last decade. You have manufacturers like Kia all of a sudden being seen as 'stylish' and 'well-made'; words you wouldn't have previously imagined to be uttered in relevance to Kia, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

While Toyota is busy building nondescript people movers like the Avanza, people are looking elsewhere for inspired wheels, for something with a bit of zest to it, something that looks more interesting (in a good way) and that won't make people mistake your pride and joy car for a government CTO issued vehicle. Toyota seems to want to revive itself from its slumber though because recently they worked in partnership with another Japanese car-maker Subaru to produce a lightweight affordable sports car; one for Toyota and the other for Subaru, named the Toyota GT 86 and Subaru BRZ and hoping to inject 'fun 'in their offerings. To be honest, Toyota more than Subaru needs massive doses of fun to stay relevant in the ever growing fashion conscious atmosphere.

The buying age has gone way down and at the age that the youths are buying cars, it is quite obvious that the youth will be looking for something even more youthful that will appeal to them. It seems Toyota has been paying attention because they revealed an edgier and much more youthful looking Corolla concept at the recent Detroit motor show in the US. The car previewed what will hopefully be the next Corollas but as we all know how cautious Toyota is with their design language, the whole thing might just turn out to be a teaser that just doesn't deliver. But the first signs are good and if much interest is shown, could be the blue print of the next Corolla.

As it stands, the 'Furia concept' as they called it is a design that is merely there to gauge the public's reaction to the new styling and the design could ultimately get incorporated into the next Corolla or get dropped, but like I said, it all depends on how slacked people's jaws will be by it. But either way, Toyota needs to update its bread and butter model if it intends to stay relevant to the ever growing youthful market because the young at heart are flocking to Mazda 3s, Ford Focuses, Fiestas and Hyundai Elantras.  But it is risky to mess with what is arguably the bestselling car in the world; according to 24/7 Wallst, from 1966 to this day, 37.5 million Corollas have been sold."It sends a clear message where we're going in the future," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager, in an interview after the presentation.

The news release says the car "hints at styling cues consumers can expect to see on the next generation Corolla.""It's a tough balance. How do you appeal to younger buyers without alienating your older one?" says Larry Dominique, a former Nissan executive who is now president of car value forecaster ALG Inc. "And if you make a mistake, it's very expensive to fix." Some say it's a beautiful styling, while others worry that such styling could turn off the customer base of retirees who long for the obscurity that the current car provides. But in the Furia concept you get a blacked out grille that is a bit like Toyota's current flagship models, the Lexus, and that can only be a good thing, right? Toyota is finally realising that reputation alone and reliability alone will not sell a car that looks boring. They need to add charisma and hopefully when the jury gets out about the concept, Toyota will heed their desires, fingers crossed.



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