Toyota Australia has taken the unprecedented step of screening potential buyers of the new GR Corolla hot hatch to ensure the cars – which are available in low volumes due to supply constraints – find legitimate enthusiast owners.
The Japanese brand has instituted the move to try and circumvent the onslaught of price-gouging profiteers that have found buyers willing to pay over the odds for their new cars during the COVID period.
Toyota Australia sales, marketing and franchise operations manager, Sean Hanley, said the brand is asking dealers to be more active in ensuring the right buyer gets the car they deserve.
Mr Hanley also said that if buyers do happen to slip through its system and work to flip a highly desirable model for a profit, there will be no direct repercussions like blacklisting the buyer, as happens with some exotic car brands when buyers flip their vehicles for a profit.
“There are no repercussions, we just hope that we get them in the right hands,” he said, before going on to say that dealers have their part to play in this game, too.
“We remind [Toyota dealers] of their obligations and the standards at which we operate, very quickly,” he said when asked what happens if the brand finds out about a dealer asking overs for a new car. “We don’t publicise it. If anything we believe is damaging our brand, we jump on it straight away.”
The GR Corolla has an initial allocation of 700 units for the five-seat GTS model (up from the original figure of 500) for the first year of sales, while the Morizo Edition model is capped at just 25 units.
“We decided in November  to ask dealers to complete an expression of interest [form] providing additional information about every person wanting to purchase a GR Corolla before a contract was signed or a deposit taken,” said Mr Hanley.
“The expression of interest covers a customer’s motoring interests and history – not just with Toyota, but with sports-cars generally – and their involvement in car clubs.
“The approach is intended to ensure that – as far as possible – these cars end up in the hands of enthusiasts and loyal customers who truly want to enjoy their GR ownership.”
Mr Hanley said that it all comes down to the principles of economics – supply and demand – which he thinks will tip back in favour of supply in the latter part of 2023.
“Hopefully in the second half of 2023 we will see more supply – we’ll start to see that generally in the industry, I think – and I think you will find these incidences of ‘price-up’ will drop dramatically,” he said.
Mr Hanley said that while all the measures put in place to try and allocate orders to the right customers have the best intentions behind them, he also said there is no such thing as a perfect way to do it.
“[For GR models] we are making every effort to get them to enthusiasts. We’re trying our best – it’s not a perfect solution, but we’re trying our best within the laws of the country we operate in,” he said.
He had a strong message to potential buyers who may miss out on the first run of allocations in Australia, and for any Toyota customer who can’t get what they want when they want it.
“My simple message, and Toyota’s simple message to its customers, is ‘don’t pay!’. Don’t do it. Wait,” he said. “Don’t pay over retail for a Toyota.”
Examples can be found online of high-demand near-new Toyota products attracting premiums of up to 30 per cent over the list price. A quick search shows examples such as the Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos hybrid all-wheel drive being listed at as much as $69,888 – well over the $49,050 (plus on-road costs) list price.
The same is true for the HiLux, Prado, Landcruiser 70 Series and 300 Series models, and Toyota is aware of customers ordering, receiving and then flipping the brand’s limited availability GR performance cars, as well.