Section 1. Development of Diverse Vehicle Lineup and Expansion of Domestic Sales
Item 4. Building a Platform for 2 Million Vehicles
Establishment of Vista outlets
From the mid-1970s, the Japanese automotive market hit a prolonged slump due to the effect of the first oil crisis and tougher emissions restrictions. Toyota's share of the new "registered" vehicle market (all vehicles with the exception of minivehicles) slid for three consecutive years from 1975. Given these circumstances, in 1978, Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Sales, Co., Ltd. set an annual target of 2 million vehicles produced and sold in Japan. At the time, the export environment was growing increasingly harsh due to the yen's appreciation and trade frictions, and Toyota aimed to secure a dominant position with a 40 percent share of the domestic registered vehicle market, which was projected to reach 5 million vehicles annually (excluding minivehicles) over the next few years.
The creation of new sales channels was proposed as a means of realizing the selling of 2 million vehicles annually. This was due to the fact that it had become clear that simply increasing the number of sales staff at the four current sales channels would have limitations, in terms of both time and scale. Although there was much debate over the wisdom of establishing new dealerships at a time when existing outlets were struggling, it was eventually concluded that the new project was also necessary to maintain the vitality of the sales network, and the plan was officially approved at a joint planning meeting between Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd. in February 1979.
In June of the same year, Toyota Motor Sales conducted a major reshuffling of its management. Chairman Shotaro Kamiya moved to honorary chairman, President Seishi Kato became chairman, and Executive Vice President Sadazo Yamamoto was promoted to president. Under this new management team, Toyota set about the challenge of selling 2 million cars a year in Japan.
The name chosen for the new sales channel was "Vista", representing a landscape or view. The "V" also stood for "Victory", and, with Vista to become Toyota's fifth domestic sales channel, it also, as a roman numeral, suitably meant "5". In March 1979 the basic policy was announced at a board meeting of the Toyota National Dealers' Advisory Council, and selection of candidates for new outlets began, while in June, Sales Division No. 5 was established within Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd. Candidate companies numbered 157, and although the selection process was difficult, 66 companies across Japan were eventually chosen.
In April 1980, Vista outlets began selling five vehicle series at 208 outlets across Japan, including the new Cresta high-end compact cars and Daihatsu's new Blizzard compact four-wheel drive. To spur sales, the various sales companies tried several new sales approaches, including bold new designs at their dealerships and strengthening their advertising.
Sales at Vista outlets reached a quarter of total orders, an unusual figure in the sales industry at the time, and 1980 sales totaled 51,000 units, far exceeding the target of 42,000 vehicles. Although it is standard nowadays in Japan for dealerships to open for business on Sundays, this was one of Vista's initial points of appeal. Following the success of this initiative at Vista outlets, Sunday sales were introduced at all Toyota dealerships in Japan from June-July 1982. Concerns over labor regulations were overcome by introducing a time in lieu system for employees, and Sunday sales became a regular part of Toyota's business.