President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation Australia, Matthew Callachor has had a colourful career history. Over his 36 years of professional tenure, he has had around 16 different jobs in the US and Asia – so many, he says, that he struggles to remember all of them. But from sales and marketing right through to manufacturing, there’s no doubt Matthew brings a wide and varied skill set to his role at Toyota.
His most recent post was Head of Global Planning at Lexus in Japan, where he grew to understand how design, manufacturing and engineering worked from an international perspective. Today, as he heads up Toyota Australia, he remains positive about the market despite its competitive nature.
“The thing about Australia and why we have such intense competition here, is that we are a very steady market, which is consistently growing,” he notes.
“The thing about Australia and why we have such intense competition here, is that we are a very steady market, which is consistently growing.”
“It’s on a gradual trajectory into the future, so that’s very appealing to automotive companies. It means you can plan on a longer-term basis and you get a more balanced product mix, making it attractive to global manufacturers.”
From Matthew’s viewpoint, Australia is probably one of the most competitive markets in the world, especially considering the number of brands that are represented in the total market. At Toyota, he aims to stay ahead by focusing on what the market really wants. “The first thing you need to recognise is that unless you have a product that people want to buy, and one that’s suited to the marketplace, you’re going nowhere. People want cars that suit their requirements. One of the strengths of Toyota, apart from our quality, dependability and reliability, is our product line. We have a very strong product range,” Matthew says.
“The first thing you need to recognise is that unless you have a product that people want to buy, and one that's suited to the marketplace, you’re going nowhere.”
Matthew admits the company’s main focus is the customer, which to him involves a never-ending process. “We want to make sure we give people the best possible experience in buying and owning a Toyota, all the way through – from thinking about what they want to buy, getting information, finding the brand that appeals to them, getting the product, going through the sales process, and then, most importantly, having easy access to service, parts and used cars,” he says.
Matthew explains that Toyota puts a lot of effort into these factors to build relationships with customers. “Customer centricity is a major focus for us. We also place a lot of effort in terms of building our brand,” he says.
As for the future, Matthew is instigating core change to meet consumer demand. “In Australia, we don’t have CO2 regulations at present, but I firmly believe that will come. And that has had a significant impact in every market around the world, regarding the types of vehicles and the changed demand patterns. We want to get ready for this with a focus on the hybrid vehicles and the way we’re looking at our product mixes in the future.”
In terms of the growth in trends for vehicles over the next few years, Matthew’s belief is that Toyota will continue to see SUVs as a strong growth category. “SUV growth is not limited to Australia. It is a global trend, and it runs through each segment. From small vehicles through to large vehicles, there is a trend away from passenger cars and towards SUVs.
“At Toyota, we’re always looking to try different things and to be innovative. For instance, the hybrid engines in the Prius. We’re looking at hydrogen vehicles at the moment, so brand strength is an important component. And overarching all of this is our customer focus. That’s paramount for us and for our dealers,” Matthew concludes.