Toyota UK Chief Pushes Patriotism Button to Ignite Sales

01 September 2006

SUNDERLAND, UK: The head of Toyota UK's manufacturing operation is hoping to persuade the British car-buying public that his brand is the patriot's proper choice.

His employer's Japanese origins and his own Dutch roots notwithstanding, Hein Van Gerwen believes the automaking giant could double its UK market share to around 10% if the Brits could be persuaded to regard the cars as a "home brand".

He cites French and German drivers' loyalty to Renault, Peugeot, Volkswagen and Mercedes as a heartwarming example and adds: "I think that maybe if we were perceived more as a UK carmaker then we could sell more cars in the UK. We have to be seen as more of a local company."

The maker of Corolla, Yaris and the luxury Lexus brands among others, Toyota employs nearly 5,000 people at its two UK manufacturing plants.

The company's vehicles have a solid reputation for reliability and quality and UK profits notched £60.2 million ($114.7m; €89.3) in the year ended March, up from £50.4m the previous year. Yet it still ranks sixth in UK market, behind Ford and General Motors.

Van Gerwen may have an uphill task trying to tap a seam of patriotism that ignored the plight of once proud domestic marque Rover. Britons failed to buy in their thousands, preferring the perceived superiority of 'foreign' cars, while Rover perished and was eventually bought for a song by Chinese automakers in a fire sale.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff