Supra makes a comeback on Toyota’s motorsports push

The Japanese sports car legend made its global premiere at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show in January after a 17-year hiatus


JAPANESE marque Toyota Motor Corp is stepping up its drive for market share in the local automotive market with a motorsports culture push as the iconic Supra makes a comeback.

The local distributor of Toyota vehicles, UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd (UMWT), is scheduled to launch the first GR sports car in Malaysia, the Toyota GR Supra on Friday.

The Japanese sports car legend made its global premiere at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show in January after a 17-year hiatus since the production of the previous generation in 2002.

The all-new fifth-generation Supra is the first global model of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s (TGR) GR sports car series.

The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive vehicle is set to entice sports car aficionados, and for UMWT, this is the beginning of a long-term game plan to promote Toyota’s motoring lifestyle and attract new customers.

“Toyota has been in Malaysia for 50 years with the brand’s core values of QDR — quality, durability, and reliability. We want to be more emotional or energetic through the Gazoo activities,” deputy chairman Akio Takeyama told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview recently.

Takeyama said the company targets to sell 15 units of the GR Supra in 2019, depending on supply availability.

Produced at the Magna Steyr, Graz plant in Austria, the Toyota’s flagship sports car shares the same platform with the BMW Z4 — the first product in a collaboration with the German automaker.

Besides the new GR Supra, UMWT plans to open the first GR Garage outside of Japan soon.

Takeyama said the company wants to roll out five GR Garages in the central, north and south parts of Peninsular Malaysia by next year.

“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 added.

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.

The GR Garages are designed to be touchpoints for car enthusiasts to purchase all-thing TGR, from GR road cars series to accessories and auto parts.

The GR speciality stores will be set up by Toyota dealers within the existing outlets, offering a shop-in-shop experience to customers on Toyota motorsports lifestyle.

Takeyama, who is a Toyota Gazoo racer himself, 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. The first race took place in Kuala Terengganu about two weeks ago and three more races are scheduled ahead.

The TGR Velocity Esports Championship runs into its second season and the grand finals will be held at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur on Sept 21-22.

The top 40 qualifiers of simulator drivers will use the latest 2019 Toyota GR Supra in the Gran Turismo esports competition.