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Battle of the third row - New-car dealers deepening multi-seater reach

Published:Sunday | August 2, 2015 | 8:00 AMMel Cooke
The Mitsubishi Outlander
The Toyota Innova
The Honda Stream
Hyundai H-1
The Nissan LaFesta
The Mitsubishi Pajero.
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Howard Foster, sales and marketing manager at Toyota Jamaica, smiles as he says "finally", emphasising the sense of achievement in getting the Noah into the Jamaican market, something the Jamaican arm of the Japanese car maker had been pressing for for some time.

Underscoring the significance of the move is that the Jamaican market was the first approved for the Noah outside of Japan. For Toyota Jamaica, it is an adjustment in its approach to the multi-seater market. The Noah succeeds the Innova, picking back up on a motor vehicle lineage that at one stage was represented at Toyota Jamaica by the popular LiteAce.

Although the new Noah is being pitched heavily at the rental car market and to those who move tourists around, naturally larger families are also on the company's radar. With good reason, too, as the Noah, also branded as the Voxy, has done very well on the used car market, having a strong presence on Jamaica's roads.

The Noah is not the only new car dealer moved into the multi-seater market in recent times. Stewart's introduced the Ertiga at the 2014 Automobile Dealers Association Auto Show. In its review of the seven-seater in late April this year, Automotives said:

"As branded by its maker, the seven-seater 2015 Suzuki Ertiga LUV (Lifestyle Utility Vehicle) can best be described as functional. At best, it is for the mom and dad transporting a lot of children, or for persons making deliveries or doing business. Aimed at providing a satisfying relationship with those it transports, the Ertiga is built with passengers in mind."

The Noah and Ertiga vary greatly in size, but are part of what may become a movement of the new car dealers into a market which has done very well for their used car counterparts. Among the many three row vehicles that have been sold on the Jamaican used car market are the Honda Stream, Toyota Wish, Nissan Lafesta, Nissan Presage and Mazda Premacy.

On the other hand, the new car choices have been limited, the Hyundai H-1, Kia Carens and Volkswagen multi-seater among them.

Automotives asks Foster if he is not concerned that the Noah will cannibalise sales of other third row vehicles the company sells and he points to the pricing structure. For while, the Toyota Fortuner and Prado offer third row seating, the price range is far above the Noah's. So is that of the Mitsubishi Pajero, although the more recently introduced Outlander is closer to Noah territory.

With an update of the Outlander announced in July, Stewart's also made the point about relative affordability, a representative of the company saying, "The Outlander is extremely competitive. In terms of size, the third row gives you more space while still being a more compact SUV than the larger vehicles like the (Mitsubishi) Pajero. It's the best value for your money on the market right now. Our pricing is on the lower end of the competition, while still including five free service visits, three-year roadside assistance, free tint, factory-installed alarm system, and more."

The new car dealer three row vehicles play directly into the ongoing competition with used car dealers for market share.