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Quake shakes 25,000 sales out of Toyota Oz

Back on track: Toyota's Camry production at Altona was hit by the Japanese quake, contributing to a 20,000+ shortfall of sales this year.

Toyota parts shortages could end up costing 25,000 sales, despite recovery efforts

24 Aug 2011

JAPAN’S devastating earthquake and tsunami might cost Toyota Australia up to 25,000 vehicle sales this year, according to the company’s senior executive director of sales and marketing David Buttner.

Speaking at the Australian unveiling of the all-new Camry in Melbourne today, Mr Buttner revealed that immediately after the March quake, he thought the event might cost as many as 90,000 sales for Toyota in Australia, almost halving its annual tally But, he said, a “fantastic job” by Toyota’s manufacturing operations and parts suppliers had restored production in a timely manner, minimising the damage to the sales charts and keeping the new seventh-generation Camry on track for a 2011 production start.

Toyota Australia’s Altona plant was forced on to half-shift production in May and June due to parts shortages from Japan, while imports also suffered as factories in Thailand and Japan slumped to as little as 30 per cent of their normal production rate.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) feared the recovery might take until November or even December, but most plants are already close to full production, with Toyota in the US saying it will operate its plants at 110 per cent to make up for lost time.

8 center imageFromt top: New Toyota HiLux, new Yaris, Toyota Australia senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner.

Mr Buttner said Toyota Australia would not know definitively until the end of the year how many sales it had lost as a result of the quake.

But he said it appeared that the loss could be between 20,000 and 25,000 in local production and imported vehicles.

Assuming a $30,000 retail price for each lost car due to the quake, the lost turnover could add up to $750 million, putting a hole in Toyota’s $2.9 billion spend on parts and services in Australia and its profitability in its financial year that ends on March 31.

Last year, Australia’s number one car company sold 214,718 vehicles. This year, Toyota sales are down 21.3 per cent, with dealers moving 98,108 vehicles to the end of July, compared with 124,720 in the same period last year.

Toyota’s market share has slumped 3.3 percentage points this year, to 17 per cent, compared with 20.3 per cent at the same time last year.

Mr Buttner said Toyota was set to get a lift from a raft of new models, with a new-model cycle beginning in the second half of this year.

Among the products due to hit the showroom are the upgraded HiLux ute – Australia’s top-selling light commercial vehicle – the new Yaris light car and the all-new Camry – Australia’s best-selling mid-sized car.

Much of the improved momentum from these now models will not be felt until 2012, when the Camry, in particular, reaches full production with the arrival of the hybrid version and its V6 sister car, the Aurion.

“It is a pretty exciting time for the franchise,” Mr Buttner said. “We are getting back to 2007 levels when we launched seven new-generation cars and we are getting into the next cycle.” So far this year, all 17 models offered by Toyota in Australia are in negative sales territory, with only the new FJ Cruiser – which wasn’t available last year – adding incremental volume.

Mr Buttner predicted that the Australian motor vehicle market was likely to recover to one million units by year’s end, with predictions of lower interest rates and recovering stock market helping to lift sales.

He said that despite the high Australian dollar, exports of Camry to 20 countries would continue next year with the new Camry, at the same levels as previously or maybe even more.

This year, Toyota expects to make 88,000 Camrys and Aurions at Altona, down from 95,000 last year, and 126,000 at its peak.

Mr Buttner declined to disclose 2012 production and sales targets for Camry, saying that information would be divulged at the November media launch of the new model.

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