It is not uncommon for motorists to show the utmost devotion to a marque. Usually brand loyalty is reserved for exotic badges such as Ferrari or Porsche or one keen on collecting classics, but this Dubai-based interior designer and decorator is completely head over heels for Japan's top car manufacturer. "A car has to look good and come with a reasonable price. That is primary," says Ramesh Moorjani, the proud owner of a white 2004 Toyota Prado and a black 2007 Camry. "I have had a good relationship over the years with Toyota and I have had no reason to do business with any other brand."
Even Toyota's catastrophic 2009 and 2010, where the manufacturer had to recall an estimated nine million models, has not affected his special relationship with the company. "I wasn't worried about my car's accelerator pedal sticking," he says. "I was surprised Toyota had this difficulty. But we are all human and all humans make mistakes. "Toyota stuck to their plan. They were committed in recalling all the faulty models and although they suffered financially, I think they have saved their name."
Moorjani, who is the owner of Marvell Star Interiors, quickly fell in love with the world's biggest car maker shortly after arriving in the UAE in 1994. Needing a car for the commute to work that was both cheap and smooth to drive, a friend recommended the Corolla. "I was told the Corolla was the best saloon car," he recalls. "Not because it was the best spec in its market or it outperformed its rivals but because it was the best priced, it was economical, but above all it had the best resale value."
Moorjani was forward thinking in his decision to buy the Toyota and was actually involved in the company's regional marketing campaign during that time. "Back then, expats were not really inclined to stay for too long. Even today, people stay for two or three years and then move on. But they still need a car. "I was fortunate enough to be in a position to be used to market the Corolla for a friend. I got a new car from it and I have been with Toyota ever since."
After enjoying the Corolla for the best part of a decade, Moorjani first purchased his Prado in 2005. "It is a smooth drive and it is the car that I use on a day to day basis for the commute to work," he says, having chosen the older 2004 model despite the new Prado on sale in the showroom. At the time he was actually looking at other cars but states that the relationship he forged with the company was a major selling point.
"I got a very good deal with it too. It was the last one in the showroom, but it came with all the full options and leather seats," Moorjani says of the Dh126,000 purchase, but he isn't one to take it off-road. "I have never been fond to take it off-road, it is excellent for the commute." By 2007, Moorjani was in the market for another car and at first set his sights on a Toyota 2.7L Fortuner but after taking it for a test drive, he did not find it as good as the Prado. Then he was introduced to the Camry. "After the test drive with the Fortuner, I was offered the Camry. I was not in the market for a saloon car of its size. I took it out anyway and really enjoyed it and I liked the look of it. At Dh80,500 fully optioned, the price was very good. Just because a car is cheap doesn't mean it has to be ugly. I took it immediately."
So which car does Moorjani drive the most? Sadly for him, he rarely has to make that decision. "My wife likes driving the Camry," he chuckles. "I don't get a chance to decide which to drive so I am usually left with the Prado. I don't mind that because the driving height is good. Though when we are both out together we go places in the Prado." For now, Moorjani has no desire to test the resale value of either car or look elsewhere in the market, and especially not looking into dealing with Toyota's rivals Honda, having run into problems with the company's European model Accord. "It was priced at Dh63,000 but I got it for Dh43,000. It was a huge mistake because I had just about every problem with it. It was not suited for the UAE's hot climate and Honda [unlike Toyota's services] were not co-operating. I had enough."
Eventually Moorjani sold the Accord for Dh5,000 after trying to sell the car for Dh12,000. "I just wanted it gone. I spoke to the buyer a while later. He only got two months out of it before getting rid of it." Moorjani still admires the finer cars on the road, and despite his love for Toyota, he would like a Ferrari. "I am sure they are enjoyable to drive and they are a thrill to see on the road. Either that or a Lamborghini.
"I think I will change my car in the future but I enjoy dealing with Toyota at the minute. It would be boring buying one brand all the time, but if they continue to bring out exciting new and improved cars, I will stick with them." firstname.lastname@example.org