While the Toyota Land Cruiser’s days are finished in the U.S., the dependable SUV still corrals strong sales throughout the rest of the world. It’s particularly popular in its native Japan, where Toyota has reportedly racked up more than 20,000 preorders for the new 2022 Land Cruiser 300.
Toyota has been forcing those prospective customers to agree not to resell their Land Cruisers for at least a year, out of fear those trucks could leave the country and end up in other markets. Specifically markets where their sale would “violate foreign exchange law” and ultimately “threaten global security,” according to Japanese site Creative311 via Google Translate.
The phrasing was cryptic, though for good reason. Reading between the lines, the worry is that new Land Cruisers will end up in the hands of insurgent, paramilitary, or terrorist groups elsewhere in the world, with whom they’re also very popular. The U.S. Government actually investigated why ISIS in particular seemed to have such a well-stocked fleet of Toyotas back in 2015, with Toyota responding at the time that it had no control over where stolen or resold vehicles end up, according to ABC News.
On Monday, Toyota of Japan released a statement, clarifying its stance and the reasoning for it. The statement was published by another Japanese site, Mag-X, picked up by Motor1 and reads as follows, again translated.
When selling vehicles to Japanese customers, Toyota dealers and Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. do not end the sale, but each dealer continues to have a responsible relationship including after-sales service in order to protect the safety and security of customers. We have a common understanding of going on.
In addition, Land Cruiser is particularly popular overseas, and we are concerned about the situation where vehicles immediately after launch will flow from Japan to overseas and will be exported to specific areas where security is regulated.
If a Toyota dealer is accused of being involved in a violation of the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law (Foreign Exchange Law) and is subject to investigation, not only the Toyota dealer but all Toyota dealers will be investigated. We recognize that this will be a major problem for dealers and Toyota Motor Corporation. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer that supplies the vehicle to Toyota Motor Corporation to sell Toyota nationwide in order to understand the possibility of violation of the above foreign exchange law from the viewpoint of legal compliance and to minimize the risk of violation of the law. I alerted the store.
With reference to this, we recognize that each dealer has received a written pledge from the customer, judging from the viewpoint of legal compliance.
It had always been my assumption that militias tend to snap up cheaper, older, smaller trucks — predominantly pickups — and that new, $60K-plus luxury SUVs like the Land Cruiser 300 were well out of their reach. For example, many Land Cruiser 70s can be seen throughout that aforementioned ABC News report on ISIS’ fondness for Toyotas. That particular model first entered production in 1984 yet is still sold new in various markets including Australia, in a variety of body styles.
You tend to see fewer modern trucks in these fleets, though militias still do get their hands on them. Research by Global Witness published last April found that the Rapid Support Forces in Sudan — one of the region’s most powerful paramilitary groups — procured five brand-new Land Cruisers VXRs in 2019 originating from Dubai. These LCs were far from the cheapest:
For example, the most expensive vehicles bought by the RSF were the five luxury Toyota Land Cruisers (model VXR 5.7L) which according to the spreadsheet, were purchased, on 22 April 2019 from Car City, Dubai for 278,000 Dirham (USD$76,000) each. Global Witness goes onto say that there is no evidence that Car City, the dealer the trucks supposedly came from, knew where the vehicles were ultimately being sold off to. That’s exactly the problem Toyota is hoping to curb here. Although the manufacturer’s focus for now appears to be on the new-gen Land Cruiser, it remains to be seen if it will expand this policy to other trucks in its global range as well.