Toyota has heard your GR Corolla calls and wants you to calm down. For those of you who already contacted local dealers to get in line, good on you for getting in early. The unfortunate reality is that even if you select the options and colors you want, you probably won’t end up getting that exact GR Corolla, if at all.
The GR Corolla will probably go down as one of the most anticipated cars announced this year. After years of seeing the rest of the world enjoy the GR Yaris and a few more years of wondering will they/won’t they give the U.S. a GR hot hatch, Toyota seemingly said, “fine, here!” and shocked us with the wonderful GR Corolla. The spec sheet reads like the stuff of dreams: 300 horsepower turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, standard six-speed manual transmission, all wrapped in a wonderful hatchback body. Too bad not many of us will get to experience it.
It all comes down to two things: how many Toyota is going to build and how those vehicles get allocated to dealers. Toyota took a different approach than it did with the GR Yaris. The GR Yaris was initially a homologation special for Toyota’s Gazoo racing’s WRC effort. Toyota committed to building 25,000, per FIA rules, (For those of you not in the U.S. who you want a GR Yaris, tough shit. It’s sold out until 2023.).
Toyota isn’t being that generous with the U.S. At least not initially. The company is only building 6,500 to start, with no more than 8,000 annually planned for the future. While 8,000 per year isn’t bad, that initial 6,500 is going to be a problem, 1,250 of which are going to be the Circut Edition. Speaking to Road & Track, Toyota VP of automotive operations for North America Jack Hollis said there are just too many orders being taken at dealers for the GR Corolla. “We have places right now, and parts of the country where there are so many orders being taken, we have to stop,” he said.
In actuality, it’s all being done on purpose by Toyota. Mike Tripp, the company’s VP of marketing called it “one too few.” He explained it to Road & Track:
I wouldn’t say the limiting factor on these vehicles is our ability to produce them. It’s being very careful to make sure that we maintain the niche credibility.
It’s a strategy that’s weirdly understandable. Too bad Toyota’s allocation process isn’t generous to that kind of business idea. I spoke with a person who’s familiar with Toyota’s allocation process. Based on what he told me, combined with the interest this car has garnered, things are going to get ugly at the dealer level.
Unlike some automakers, who either do a build-to-order process or allocate vehicles to dealers based on need, Toyota’s process is in left field. Toyota decides dealer allocation based on an entire region’s sales and market performance. So dealers that are doing well get lumped in with those that aren’t. This means that vehicles are assigned to regions and not dealers.
You might be asking “So? What’s the problem?” Say you place an order for a Heavy Metal silver GR Corolla with some kind of optional package (Toyota hasn’t released options or pricing for the GR Corolla yet) and you’re third on your dealer’s list. It’s going to be a toss up if you actually get that exact vehicle because dealers have no control over what vehicle they’ll actually receive. Your dealer may just end up calling and saying, “Hey, we have a Red GR Corolla with no options. You want it?” You’ll either take it or leave it. If you leave it, they’ll just call up the next person on the list.
It’s what my informant is going through right now with his GR 86 order at a local dealership. He told me he got a preferenced allocation (meaning the dealer let him select what options he wanted) at one dealership and placed deposits at two others Thanksgiving 2021. He was fourth on one list and eighth on another. He still hasn’t heard anything about his “order.”
“They still haven’t gotten to me, meaning they haven’t got cars to cross people off the list,” he says. “So they’re most likely not preferencing cars for the waitlist and for whatever reason are just accepting what Toyota is giving them.”
There may be a way around it, he says, but it’ll probably just make things worse. Dealers can preference an allocation. This means the dealer can tell Toyota they want a specific trim and color of the model whenever the next allocation is released. He says that this is why a Toyota dealer gives you a timeframe when you place an “order.” That six to eight months isn’t the time it’s going to take for Toyota to make the car; that’s the time frame the dealer is hoping they’ll receive what you preferenced.
This is due to the fact that Toyota can’t guarantee that there will be enough of a vehicle in the configuration that you or the dealer preferenced. He broke it down pretty well on the GR Corolla forums, showing how it will most likely play out using the example of someone who wanted a GR Corolla in White, Core trim with a performance package and cold weather package:
San Fransisco region
Allocation pool size: 100 cars
100 GR Corollas
Out of the 100 GR Corollas, only 10 of them are white with the performance package and cold weather package.
Lets says theres 50 dealerships in the San Franssico Region. If there are 10 White GRs with those two packages, the Region (Toyota’s allocations) will send it to 10 dealerships or possibly one dealer would get two.
Lets sat they DID preference it and didnt get it. This is proablyt because another dealershi preferenced it first.
So Region recogniszes that and says “Sorry ABC Toyota, we’ll see if a White Core with the performance package and cold weather package is in the pool next time and we’ll prioritize your preference if it is.
A few weeks later, ABC Toyota calls you and says they finally have a White Core with performance package and cold weather package coming in for you! Think about this process and think about the long waiting lists, especially at stores promising MSRP.
It’ll probably be worse than this at dealers doing markups. Seeing the process broken down doesn’t give me any hope. Those of you who have placed an “order” at your local dealer should prepare for the worst. With Toyota’s system the way it is, some buyers may get turned off and give up. But considering that hot hatches are an endangered species, some may just hold out hope that they’ll get a chance to own something that we’ll likely never see again from Toyota.