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More room for new car sales leader

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2016 | 2:00 AMMel Cooke
Steve St Angelo, CEO of Latin America and the Caribbean for Toyota Motor Corporation.
Tom Connor, managing director, Toyota Jamaica Ltd, speaks at Thursday's official opening of the new 93 Old Hope Road, St Andrew, location.
A man arrives for the grand opening of the new Toyota Jamaica location at 93 Old Hope Toad, St Andrew, on Thursday evening.
Guests at Thursday's opening of Toyota Jamaica's new location.
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After LAST Wednesday's media tour of Toyota Jamaica's Old new Old Hope Road branch, on Thursday evening the vehicles were removed from the showroom floor to make way for the many persons who turned up for the outlet's official opening.

They were treated to a bonus, an unexpected performance by singer Tarrus Riley, after a number of speakers from within the company, and Anthony Hylton, minister of industry, investment and commerce, spoke about the importance and implications of the investment.

Market leader

Throughout, it was noted that Toyota Jamaica is the market leader in the new-car segment and the Old Hope Road outlet brings them closer to a large customer base.

The brand's relationship with Jamaica was also emphasised and there was laughter when Masato Yamanami, executive officer of the Toyota Tsusho Corporation, related his experience at immigration. When he told the officer that he was coming to Jamaica for a Toyota event, immediately there were queries about the RAV4 and the process of getting into the country was over very quickly.

Hylton spoke about more concrete data related to the construction, saying that a year ago when it started a $400 million investment was slated to provide 140 more jobs. "A year on and they have kept their promise," Hylton said. "This is a Jamaican-design, Jamaican- built and Jamaican-serviced facility."

Tom Connor, managing director of Toyota Jamaica Ltd, identified a number of Jamaican partners, including Jamaica Fibreglass and Tank-Weld, which were among the "gems" Toyota Jamaica worked with in the construction and outfitting process. And Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Masanori Nakano, noted Japanese love for reggae and Blue Mountain coffee, reciprocated by Jamaicans' preference for Japanese automobiles.

Embraced Toyota

The ebullient Steve St Angelo, CEO of Latin America and the Caribbean for Toyota Motor Corporation, listed his seven reasons for loving Jamaica, including white rum, Red Stripe beer, Bob Marley and the Jamaica bobsled team. Top of the list was the happy, warm, Jamaican people who have embraced Toyota since it came to Jamaica in 1973.

"For the past 14 years it has been the bestselling brand," St Angelo said, closing his address with an effervescent "welcome to your new home, uptown Kingston".

Riley included Lion Paw, Far Away and She's Royal in his extended performance to recorded tracks.