A major issue, which has been subjected into inquiries by a number of countries in the late 2015, regarding ISIS possessing Japanese Toyota vehicles raised questions on means of acquiring this great number of new cars by the terrorist organization.
The US Treasury opened an investigation about ISIS’s use of large numbers of brand-new Toyota trucks.
US counter-terror officials have asked Toyota, the world’s second largest auto maker, to help them determine how ISIS has managed to acquire the large number of Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs seen prominently in the terror group’s propaganda videos in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Toyota said it does not know how ISIS obtained the vehicles and is “supporting” the inquiry led by the Terror Financing unit of the Treasury Department.
Toyota has a “strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities,” Chief Representative of Toyota’s Middle East & North Africa Regional Office (MENARO),
Takayuki Yoshitsugu told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview.
He said it is impossible for the company to track vehicles that have been stolen, or have been bought and re-sold by middlemen.
Stories regarding Toyota-ISIS relation were numerous as some official US sources indicated that an Iraqi merchant is responsible for importing these Trucks in the framework of exchanging them with large quantities of smuggled oil.
Nevertheless, Russian official sources indicated that ISIS militants plundered Toyota vehicles from Syrian opposition sites and that the US and Britain were the first to provide these oppositions with the vehicles.
In his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Yoshitsugu confirmed that growth rates are continuous in Saudi market and the region despite the drop in oil prices. “Saudi
Arabia is definitely the biggest market for Toyota and by far our most important market. We estimate our market share to be around 35 percent,” he said.
Yoshitsugu expected the market demand to be affected in 2016 by the low oil prices to some extent. However, he asserted that Toyota’s objective is to consistently provide higher customer satisfaction through attractive product range with the added benefit of superior customer service.
He said that 2015 was an exciting and good year for Toyota in the Middle East as it launched several new models such as the Camry, Hilux and LC200. In the case of Lexus, he added, the company launched the NX, LX and RX.
He pointed out that his company is focusing its efforts on hybrid vehicles where it achieved tremendous success with the recently launched “Prius”.
When asked about the secret behind the success of Land Cruiser in the Middle East, Takayuki Yoshitsugu answered by saying that “Toyota is always working to provide ever better cars which exhibit the enduring attributes of performance, design, quality, durability and reliability that Toyota has become synonymous for.”
“The Land Cruiser commands customer loyalty because of the phenomenal all-terrain performance and reliability. With each successive generation, Toyota has aimed at strengthening the vehicle’s tradition of reliability, durability and off-road performance while improving the handling stability, ride comfort and driving pleasure. Toyota’s exceptional after sales service is also a big advantage and adds to the popularity of the Land Cruiser,” he added.
In addition, when he was asked whether Toyota supports any charity or safety initiatives in the region, he said that Toyota and its valued distributors undertake significant efforts in order to contribute to society and be active in community.
For example in the Kingdom, ALJ (Abdul Latif Jameel) is very active in Saudi Arabia in the areas of job creation, education and training, road safety initiatives, health and social development. In UAE, Toyota’s distributor Al-Futtaim Motors has been involved in road safety initiatives where they have organized a number of educational off-road safety programs aimed at raising awareness about safe driving off-road and on desert terrains.
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