Special Coverage

2011 Ward's e-Dealer 100

One of Toyota’s top California dealers credits the Internet for much of the store’s success. Toyota Sunnyvale in the Silicon Valley is run by Adam Simms, who has been in the forefront of many online sales and marketing initiatives.

The dealership ranks No.12 on the Ward’s e-Dealer 100, with total Internet sales of 2,710 vehicles in 2010.

General Sales Manager Yama Popal oversees the store’s Internet staff of 14. At age 37, he feels in step with the average age of Sunnyvale’s Toyota and Scion customers, many of whom are avid Internet users.

“Our sales people are authorized to run the sales process from taking over Internet leads and meeting them as visitors to the e-system,” says Popal, who worked up the ranks from a salesman position.

“Like me, every salesperson can handle financing, as well as leads off the Internet, new or used units, accessories and follow-ups for prepaid maintenance,” he says. “This has built up a market all across the Silicon Valley, which enables us to outsell each of the other five Toyota dealers within 20 miles (32 km) of Sunnyvale.”

Toyota Sunnyvale scrolls through about 12,000 leads on the Internet as a prospect base and fields about 1,200 online questions a month.

“Our mantra is to respond to hits and questions within moments,” says Popal.

Toyota Sunnyvale is only a few miles from Fremont, CA, where Toyota had assembled Corolla cars and Matrix cross/utility vehicles in a joint venture with General Motors.

Many of the plant’s employees, members of the United Auto Workers union, used their discount privileges to buy new vehicles at Sunnyvale Toyota.

Most have stayed loyal to the dealership and the Toyota and Scion brands, Popal says.

“Corolla quality out of Fremont was as good as the quality out of Japan,” he says. “But we’re always running tight on Priuses, which is a gotta-have car for many residents of the Silicon Valley, Popal says.

The dealership “can’t wait” for the arrival of Toyota’s wider range of Prius models, as well as more hybrid and electric vehicles from the auto maker.