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Aurion: In brief

Not dead yet: Toyota says Aurion hits a still-strong large car market.

Toyota plans on fewer fleet sales for Aurion compared with other large sedans

18 Oct 2006

Naming rights
DERIVED from the ancient Greek for "tomorrow" or "first light", the Aurion name was chosen from 30 others contenders.

According to Toyota, research conducted at the Australian International Motor Show last year found that patrons associated the name with qualities such as futuristic (33 per cent), technology (17 per cent), innovation (17 per cent) and sophistication (13 per cent).

Insurance discount
TOYOTA is attempting to attract new customers to its in-house financing arm, offering to waive its standard policy excess on a comprehensively insured Presara model – or others fitted optionally with the "Toyota Link" telematics service – should the vehicle be stolen.

According to the company, this will save between $250 and $500, depending on the Australian state in which the vehicle is registered.

The Toyota Service Advantage also guarantees Aurion’s first four services will be completed by Toyota dealers for $120 apiece – at the same 15,000km intervals as Commodore.

To market, to market
GIVEN the indiscernible difference between Camry and Aurion in terms of interior and exterior dimensions, Toyota plans to attract the 80 per cent of potential large-car buyers its says are "there to be won" by focusing on Aurion’s styling, power, performance, fuel consumption, safety, equipment and technology.

According to Toyota, the group is split evenly between "one-timers" who are not convinced by current offerings and "six-cylinder solution seekers" who need good reason to stay in or return to the large-car market. The remaining 20 per cent, says Toyota, is a diminishing group of "tribalists (who) love tradition and grunt: they’ve bought the same car for generations, largely determined by what their father bought – or which car won Bathurst".

Ambush marketing
WHILE reluctant to reveal the total cost of its marketing campaign for Aurion, which began at the Melbourne motor show in February and included high-profile AFL sponsorship, Toyota denies it has stooped as low as redirecting Ford and Holden website viewers to its own Aurion website, as has been rumoured.

Toyota sales and marketing boss David Buttner said he would have known about such a ploy if it existed, but was honoured to hear reports that Holden’s ambush marketing campaign had resorted to flying the Big Red airship over Coffs Harbour on Monday – allegedly on its way to the Gold Coast for the Lexmark Indy 300.

8 center imageAT-X v Omega
TOYOTA expects the entry-level AT-X to comprise around 65 per cent of Aurion sales – the same proportion it expects to sell to fleets, which is less than the 80 per cent of fleet sales traditionally attracted by Commodore and Falcon, and less than that of Avalon, which became Australia’s top-selling taxi donor car – while Sportivo variants should form 25 per cent of the mix, leaving the luxury-oriented Prodigy and Presara to account for 14 and six per cent respectively.

Fleet street
IN STARK contrast to Holden’s retail-oriented approach to VE Commodore marketing, Toyota claims fleet sales will play a significant role in Aurion’s success. "Fleet is absolutely vital," Mr Buttner said.

"Fleets look primarily at whole-of-life costs and residual values and we’ve demonstrated that Aurion will deliver on both fronts to provide them with a return on their investment. The plan is to make sure we have the most aggressive and best value pricing structure for both private and fleet buyers." Mr Buttner said Toyota last week presented Aurion to dealers and fleet customers, who had already placed a promising number of orders.

Oz out front
AFTER years of modifying TMC platforms for local use, Toyota Australia’s leadership of the Aurion design and engineering program has culminated in it being the only TMC subsidiary to manufacture both Camry and Aurion, and TMCA being the only local maker to build different four and six-cylinder models.

The curiously named Project 380L of 2003 – a not-for-production concept that aimed to demonstrate to its Japanese parent Toyota Australia’s design and engineering skills, as well as the type of vehicle Toyota needed for Australia – led to Aurion’s production approval. Aurion is already built and sold as an upmarket Camry V6 in Taiwan, China and Thailand, whose need for a lower-luxury car made Aurion’s development viable.

Large not dead
TOYOTA chairman emeritus John Conomos says Aurion’s arrival is a 20-year dream come true for him personally and that Toyota Australia’s first legitimate large car will be instrumental in the big Aussie six segment making a "strong contribution" to healthier new-car sales in the fourth quarter of 2006.

"The large sedan segment is not dead," he said. "The market is in recession but from very high levels. Logically, it must rejuvenate and respond. We expect a strong final quarter to continue to 2008. The demand pattern will become clear after the launch of this car. Many buyers have told me they are holding off their purchase until after the launch of Aurion."Camry AT-X V6?
WAS it a mistake, or something to read into? Toyota Australia’s website last week carried a model list for Camry showing an AT-X V6 model variant, priced from $39,900.

A GoAuto correspondent who alerted us to the "new model" said the price list was online for a short period before being removed. Toyota has denied that an AT-X (or even a V6) Camry are under consideration. And not least because the listed price is well above the $34,990 Aurion AT-X, it seems it was nothing more than a point of interest.

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