Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Toyota Motor Philippines is Considering More Gazoo Racing Offerings


Look at that badge and sear the image into your brain, because you might be seeing more of it pretty soon. At the Philippine launch of the 2020 Supra, Toyota Motor Philippines was adamant in referring to their flagship sportscar not as “Supra” but as “GR Supra.” A glance at the media kit, brochure, and all other marketing material confirms this. So, what gives? Why such emphasis on “GR?”

Toyota would have saved a bundle of characters in their tweets and ‘gram posts if they simply omitted the letters, G and R, but apparently there’s a reason behind it. Now, before that, it’s best to discuss first what the heck these two letters stand for in the first place.

GR stands for Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s most visible commitment to making ever-better cars. Not only is it their motorsports division, but it’s also their go-fast division responsible for, well, making ever-better cars.

The word Gazoo actually means “Garage,” and for Toyota, they see this as an intimate place where people work together to improve a car in the smallest details to make them ever-better (there’s that phrase again).

But the origin of the name goes back nearly twenty years to the creation of gazoo.com, a website gathering images of the vehicles on stock at each of the dealerships. Its name, “gazoo”, was derived from the Japanese word “gazo” which means image or photo. Although the use of imagery on website is commonplace today, it was revolutionary for the automotive industry in Japan in the mid-1990s when internet technology was at its infancy. Gazoo.com offered consumers a wide choice of products, allowing them to find the best deal available, and this is where the philosophy of providing ever-better cars (there it is again) to the Toyota customer originates.

Okay, so why must the Filipino car enthusiast care about all this? Well, aside from being a good trivia you can throw in at a drinking (coffee or beer) session, the introduction of the GR Supra might be the start of a full-on Gazoo Racing invasion locally.

Currently, there are three tiers of Gazoo Racing cars—the GR Sport, the GR, and the GRMN.

The mid-tier GR—Toyota’s authentic sports model is where the Supra belongs to. It’s the same one where the Toyota 86 (now officially known as Toyota 86 GR) finds itself in. At the highest-tier is the GRMN or “Gazoo Racing Made for the Nurburgring” which are basically limited-edition models, while at the lowest-tier is the GR Sport which are run-of-the-mill Toyotas with cosmetic upgrades and slight suspension tweaking here and there.

Now, while the chances of the Philippines getting GRMN models (or the remaining GR model, the Vitz GR) being pretty slim, the best bet would be the proliferation of GR Sport variants. There’s already a Hilux GR Sport in Latin America, and given how the ASEAN market loves pickup trucks, it’s a no-brainer to see it here eventually; ditto the Vios which could swap its TRD branding over to Vios GR Sport. Oh, and there’s also the issue of the all-new Corolla which is slated to appear pretty soon. It already has a GR Sport variant, but there’s a strong possibility of a GRMN in the works too.

This move also makes sense because Toyota Motor Philippines went out of their way to certify 16 out of 70 dealerships as “GR Performance” dealerships—that’s too much of a hassle for the Supra alone. Likely, these 16 dealerships will serve as their launch point to introduce more Gazoo Racing models in the near future.

According to Toyota Motor Philippines Senior Vice President for Marketing, Jing Atienza, there are still no concrete plans to bring in more Gazoo Racing models, but they’re not closing the door on them. They’re currently studying the market conditions, he says. Still, the big, wry smile on President Satoru Suzuki’s face seems to confirm what everyone knows all along: there’s a market for sportier Toyotas in the country.

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