Toyota is reviewing the allocation system for its in-demand RAV4 Hybrid after CarAdvice revealed some customers are receiving vehicles just four weeks after ordering them, while others are waiting up to 10 months.
The waiting list for the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is so long it has prompted a Facebook page called Australians waiting for 2020 RAV4s, which encourages those in the queue to share their stories – and any tips on how to get their car sooner.
“Most people understand and accept that the car is popular and there will be a wait time. What people are upset about is the unfairness of the distribution system and the lack of communication and transparency from Toyota,” David Higgins, the founder of the Facebook page, told CarAdvice last month.
Contrary to widespread belief, Toyota does not use a “first come, first served” allocation system. Rather, each of Toyota’s more than 200 dealers nationally goes into what has been described as a “lottery” to try to win a production slot each month.
Bigger dealers in theory have more chances at winning a production slot because they have more orders.
However, confusingly for customers, as the Facebook page Australians waiting for 2020 RAV4s revealed, some rural dealers are able to deliver cars in less than a month while large metropolitan dealers have customers waiting up to 10 months for the same vehicle.
Following this feedback, Toyota Australia vice president, sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, said the company was now working overtime to try to address the extreme delays.
“Until mid March, 90 per cent of our customers were receiving their RAV4 Hybrids within six months, however there was a gap of 10 per cent that extended beyond six months,” Mr Hanley told CarAdvice.
“We’re now looking at how we reassess our supply situation to ensure that in a very careful, logical and fair way … we can get to those customers with extended waiting times.”
Despite the renewed focus on customers at the end of the queue for RAV4 Hybrid, Toyota says it will not switch to a 'first come, first served' allocation system.
“While it appears at face value most people would say ‘first in, first served’ is the best and fairest way to allocate cars, when you’re dealing in such massive numbers, it’s not quite correct,” said Mr Hanley.
For example, he said, colours and options can affect delivery times but, most of all, fleet orders could push private buyers down the queue if it weren’t for Toyota’s current allocation system.
“If you have an enormous amount of fleet orders (a ‘first come, first served’ allocation system) would disadvantage a private buyer, so we need to be careful how we balance the allocation of cars,” he said.
However, Mr Hanley acknowledged “there is a gap we need to address”.
“We will maintain our allocation system but with a view to address the group of customers waiting longer than six months, “ he said.
“We’re dealing with an exceptional number of cars, our current allocation system is the best solution, albeit with the need to address the 10 per cent of customers waiting longer than six months.”
Toyota originally forecast hybrid models would account for between 35 and 40 per cent of RAV4 sales but in fact true demand is now consistently running at more than 50 per cent of orders.
“We’re dealing with incredibly high demand … but we know customers want to get their cars quickly and we’re doing everything possible to address that in the fairest possible way,” said Mr Hanley.
“We hear the voice of the customer and we want them to know we are listening and we want them to know that we will review (the current situation) and try to get a better outcome.”