Opening to a full-house of over 500 people two weeks ago, Toyota's newest dealership -- the $25 million CMI Toyota facility on Adelaide's West Terrace -- demonstrates just where the future of the brand's showrooms, servicing, and indeed its new car customer experience, is headed.

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A subsidiary of the Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) group, founded in 1934, Commercial Motor Industries (CMI) is one of the oldest Toyota dealerships in the country, itself selling Toyota commercial vehicles in South Australia since 1963. CMI added passenger cars to its portfolio in 1988.

Now operated by CMV founder, Sidney Crawford's two sons, Paul and Michael, the successful franchise sells more than 3800 Toyota cars and light commercial vehicles annually.

Covering over 500,000 square metres across four levels, the new state-of-the-art building is one of 50 dealership projects planned by Toyota Australia this year. Before the end of the year, the company will invest a total of $107 million across its national dealer network.

The new Adelaide facility houses up to 265 staff (in administration, sales, service and parts), took over 18 months to build, and was the 11th submitted design to win planning approval. The new building consumed an adjoining street and warehouse in its construction, such is its size.

The large roof acts as a catchment area for rainfall which is channeled into six 125,000-litre tanks housed beneath the service department's undercover driveway. The water is used to supply two automated car wash bays (on the third floor) and all of the building's toilets. The roof also plays host to a number of solar hot water heaters that supply the needs of the building's showers and bathrooms. Due to the service department's thirst for 3-phase power, solar electricity cells could not be used.

The top two levels of the building, which are fronted by a glass display case for even more showroom space, also offer parking space for all of the dealership's new stock, customer and staff cars. The dealership is pleased its facility can fully protect vehicles from the elements. No hail damage here. Carbon-monoxide sensors placed throughout the upper levels that activate a series of ducted suction fans to vent the area when levels get too high.

To ensure absolute transparency to its customers -- and to those passing by on the street -- the surgery-like service department is completely enclosed in glass. Customers can even watch their car being service from an overhead gantry.

"Increasingly it is important that our customers, and potential customers, can see our service activities in action," explains Toyota senior executive director, David Buttner."It is an important component of the interaction between the company and its customers."

Comprising 33 bays, the service department also offers two one-hour Express Service bays for while-you-wait service. The Express Service bays each use a team of two technicians who work simultaneously on the one car in a carefully choreographed sequence. The process ensures work is done by the book with all parts made available to the technicians ahead of time.

Currently, Express Service is only offered on passenger vehicles, but CMI Toyota General Manager, Roy Marando says the quick turnaround service will be extended to its commercial clients by next year, and that CMI may even add an additional two bays if the need arises.

In full flight, the service department will handle up to 500 cars a day. It currently processes 250.

While the idea of waiting for your car to be serviced may sound as exciting as a trip to the dentist, the comfortable Qantas Club-styled business lounge offers wireless internet access, modern business facilities, newspapers and magazines, big screen TV, a children's play area and espresso machine - all of which are freely available.

Alternatively, those customers wishing to drop their vehicles off in the morning and collect them at night are met by a valet at both ends of the service for that Lexus-esque personal touch. A shuttle bus service operates every 15 minutes to the CBD and loan cars are also available - they even wash your car free of charge.

Toyota hopes to extend this level of service to all its customers across the country within the next few years.

The large, open showroom is designed to be engaging to the customer - or 'customercentric', as Toyota puts it - and integrates the sales, fleet, service and parts departments in the one, transparent area.

The bright, airy space is naturally lit thanks to acres of glass (the eight-metre-high panels were imported from China, the only country in the world to make glass in this size) and can offer a large variety of cars for customer viewing, a far cry from CMI Toyota's previous three-car showroom.

"This new dealership is an impressive commitment to the future - a clear message that customers will receive the best possible experience when buying or servicing their vehicles," Mr Buttner said.

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