by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by ARIF KARTONO
UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd will open the first GR Garage outside of Japan this month to attract new and younger customers in Malaysia via the carmaker’s sports brand.
Its deputy chairman Akio Takeyama (picture) said the company plans to set up five GR Garages in the central, north and south parts of Peninsular Malaysia by next year, in the first phase of execution.
For the next phase, the company could introduce GR Garage in Sabah. Takeyama said the opening of the first GR Garage will accompany the launch of the first GR sports car in Malaysia, the Toyota GR Supra, this month.
The GR Supra made its global debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show in January after a 17-year hiatus since the production of the previous generation in 2002.
Its target sale for 2019 is 15 units, depending on supply availability. “From this year onwards, customers can expect new GR models and experience what Gazoo is all about through GR Garages. Our expectation as a business is to attract new customers.
“The basic objective is, however, not to promote sales but to develop the brand and convey Toyota’s motorsports philosophy,” Takeyama told The Malaysian Reserve recently.
Toyota has competed in the world’s major motorsports events including the Formula One, FIA World Rally Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, by separate entities within the company such as Toyota Racing, Lexus Racing and Gazoo Racing teams.
In April 2015, Toyota united all its motorsports activities under Gazoo Racing.
The automaker’s thinking, since the time of its founder Kiichiro Toyoda, is that the extreme conditions of motorsports reveal the vehicles’ full potential. This allows the company to push those limits to make “ever-better” cars.
Takeyama said GR Garage will be a base to promote Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR), featuring not only GR road cars series, but also GR accessories and auto parts.
GR Garage will be set up by Toyota dealers within the existing outlets, offering a shop-in-shop experience to the customers on Toyota motorsports lifestyle.
Takeyama, who is a Toyota Gazoo racer himself, said Toyota Motor will provide guidelines and corporate image of GR Garage to the participating dealers.
Overall, Takeyama said, GR activities in Malaysia are anchored by four pillars — the TGR Festival, TGR Velocity Esports Championship, GR Garage and GR sports car series.
The TGR Festival enters its third season this year with the first race set to take place in Kuala Terengganu this weekend.
Meanwhile, the TGR Velocity Esports Championship runs into its second season and the grand finals will be held at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur on Sept 21 to 22.
The top 40 qualifiers of simulator drivers will use the latest 2019 Toyota GR Supra in the Gran Turismo esports competition.