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Acid test for TRD

Business case: Toyota must sell 50 TRD Aurions a month.

Success or failure for TRD hinges on hot Aurion

31 Aug 2007

PERFORMANCE versions of Toyotas like the Yaris and Corolla, and indeed the future of the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) banner under which they would be sold, depend on the success of the first model to emerge from Toyota Australia’s world-first TRD vehicle brand – the TRD Aurion.

Sales targets for the supercharged Aurion V6 are a closely guarded secret, but GoAuto has learned that Toyota needs to sell 50 examples of the TRD Aurion per month to recoup its $5 million investment in the vehicle and the TRD brand itself.

It is believed the approval of a third TRD-branded model, which is currently the subject of a feasibility study and would follow the launch of the TRD HiLux late this year, hinges on the success of the TRD Aurion, which offers Toyota’s performance division its highest single sales volume potential.

Toyota has confirmed a supercharged HiLux dual-cab utility will be the second TRD model to be launched, by the end of this year.

Previewed at the Melbourne International Motor Show earlier this year, where the TRD Aurion was to have been released (but was delayed due to technical issues) alongside the launch of the TRD brand itself, it will pack substantially more than the 175kW delivered by the regular HiLux’s 4.0-litre V6.

A further 15 specialist TRD retail outlets will be established within mostly regional Toyota dealerships to coincide with the TRD HiLux launch, in addition to the 26 mostly metropolitan TRD dealerships now selling the TRD Aurion.

Toyota has named less expensive imported all-wheel drive mid-sizers like Subaru’s Liberty GT, the Mazda6 MPS and Volkswagen’s Golf R32 as key TRD Aurion rivals, each of which find between 70 and 90 customers per month.

Toyota believes conquest sales from these models, rather than more direct price competitors from HSV and FPV, will comprise the majority of TRD Aurion sales, but admits many customers may also be upgrading Toyota owners.

8 center imageDespite the possibility of it no longer existing in two years, an upgraded version of the TRD Aurion has already been developed in preparation for a midlife facelift. If the TRD models prove popular, the second-generation Aurion (due to emerge in 2011 alongside the redesigned Camry upon which it will be based) is likely to bring even more power and an all-wheel drivetrain to handle it.

The AWD system currently offered with the Camry in Japan is not suitable for TRD use, but GoAuto understands that the AWD system to be introduced in the upcoming Lexus LS600hL is the first employment of a new Toyota-developed AWD system that could eventually filter down to locally-built models such as the Aurion or even Camry.

The most likely candidate for the third TRD model, which Toyota had previously said would be locked in by mid-2007, is a 1.8-litre Yaris hatch. It is believed the TRD Yaris budget will not extend to turbocharging, but a performance boost from the Yaris 1.5’s 80kW/141Nm outputs to the 100kW/174Nm offered by the new Corolla’s 1.8-litre engine could be sufficient.

Both 2.4-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 versions of the Corolla hatch will soon be available in Japan, where only the 1.8-litre four-door sedan is badged as a Corolla. Our Corolla hatch is known as the Auris in Japan, where it also offers 2.4-litre Camry power, while the Japanese-market Blade is a rebumpered version of the Auris and will also bring V6 power. If approved for sale outside Japan, either model could become the fourth TRD model.

While a TRD-badged Camry may provide the biggest engineering and marketing hurdle for Toyota, the company has not ruled out TRD versions of its light-duty SUVs, including the RAV4 and Kluger. The former will next month become available with the same 3.5-litre V6 that powers Aurion and Kluger, meaning both AWD wagons will soon be eligible for the 241kW/400Nm TRD Aurion treatment.

Timeline to TRD Aurion
Mid-2002 X-Runner development begins
February 2003 Action Learning Team’s first meeting
February 2003 X-Runner concept appears at Melbourne show
February 2004 Sportivo Coupe concept appears at Melbourne show
November 2004 TMCA board approval for TRD Aurion
March 2005 Camry TS-01 appears at Melbourne motor show
September 2006 Eaton TVS supercharger confirmed
October 2006 Aurion Sports Concept appears at Sydney motor show
November 2006 Aurion sedan launches
November 2006 TRD Aurion durability testing by Orbital Engine Co
January 2007 Cold weather testing at Shibetsu proving ground, Japan
March 2007 TRD HiLux concept appears at Melbourne motor show
March 2007 TRD Aurion hot weather testing in Alice Springs, NT
May 2007 TRD Aurion final engine calibration signed off
August 2007 TRD Aurion launches

Read more:

First drive: Toyota blows sport into Aurion

TRD Aurion to leave tribal leaders alone

Aurion TRD delayed as Toyota searches for power

Sydney show: Supercharged Aurion points to future

First look: Toyota reveals hottest ever HiLux

First look: X-Runner is a first for Toyota

World first! Driving Toyota's X-Runner

Exclusive! Why Toyota built X-Runner

TRD Aurion: a Toyota-first overload

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