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News - VFACTS - Sales 2006 - June

June VFACTS: Toyota on the up!

Feeling fine: Toyota Australia senior executive director of sales and marketing, Dave Buttner, with the Aurion. Digital image: Chris Harris.

Toyota extends its sales lead - and looks ahead to the Aussie large-car showdown

13 Jul 2006

OH, WHAT a feeling! Despite a massive 21.7 per cent market share – and a lead of 30,000 sales to its nearest competitor – at the mid-point for 2006 new-vehicle trading Toyota Australia has refused to declare that the year is all over bar the shouting.

Nor is it looking to 2007.

"We’ll just keep looking over our shoulders and think like number one but act like number two," Toyota Australia senior executive director of sales and marketing, Dave Buttner, told GoAuto this week.

"It would be nice to think that we could come out of this year being number one – and that’s certainly our objective. But in this marketplace you can’t always predict what’s going to happen.

"I’m not going to say that by mid-year we’ve got it in the bag. That would be arrogant and conceited. We have absolute respect for our competitors." With the arrival this weekend of Holden’s VE Commodore, Mr Buttner is wary of making any bold claims, acknowledging that the Commodore will help lead a resurgence in the large six-cylinder market.

"I have no doubt Holden will do a wonderful job with Commodore," he said. "And I have no doubt that that’s going to assist in stimulating that large-six segment." Mr Buttner said that when the V6 Aurion arrived around October it would also help stimulate the segment. "But, most importantly, we can gain share above and beyond whatever we’ve been doing with that large-six segment in the past," he said.

Aurion’s Avalon predecessor was swamped in the marketplace, largely because it was already a superseded design when launched here in 2000. Production ceased 12 months ago.

Still, Mr Buttner acknowledged that with Toyota’s lead of 30,000 vehicles this year, it was well placed for 2006.

He said Toyota’s launch strategy for the four-cylinder Camry and V6 Aurion was working well, despite suggestions the Aurion was gaining the lion’s share of marketing dollars.

"Camry’s always been around and it has always been a strong competitor," he said. "For Camry, the whole theme of the launch is rejuvenation, not only in Australia but globally. We’ve now got a vehicle that has always had substance but now it’s got style." However, with the Aurion, Toyota was launching "something totally new in the marketplace".

"So it’s not rejuvenation," he said. "We need to build the foundation progressively so we’re preparing the marketplace for this new large family passenger six, and our research is showing us that the recognition of the name is growing month after month." Mr Buttner said the car’s name recognition was high, on the back of strong media messages through AFL and Formula 1-style ads the company had been running.

He also believes there will be little substitution of Camry buyers into the Aurion on the back of the strong media push for the V6.

"There is always a potential for that but we’ve never launched a new car into the marketplace thinking about substitution," he said. "Our total objective of any new product is for incrementality.

"While there is potential for that to happen it’s certainly not our plan." With petrol prices continuing to skyrocket, Mr Buttner believes Toyota’s 'four' (Camry, for now) and 'V6' (Aurion) strategy is gaining stronger ground.

Because both the Camry and Aurion are built on the same production line, the company can switch production between four and six cylinders relatively easy, depending on demand.

"Our strategy will continue to be offering the marketplace fit-for-purpose vehicles with a fuel economy that’s appropriate for the times," he said. "We certainly have the flexibility within our manufacturing facility, although it’s not ultimately flexible." Many fleet buyers and prospective fleet buyers have already driven both cars at Anglesea near Melbourne and Sydney’s Eastern Creek race circuit.

Toyota’s success last month was its biggest on record, and its biggest first half result ever, significantly leading in the booming small-car and medium-sized SUV segments.

To June 30, Toyota sold 104,619 vehicles – an increase of 3.9 per cent on the previous record for the first half set in 2004.

Corolla achieved 5912 sales, Yaris 2611, RAV4 1578 and the Prius 182.

"So if you look at those four models, they’re in the segments that are booming," Mr Buttner said.

With 22,392 sales, Toyota outsold its nearest rival – Holden – last month by 8785 vehicles, achieving a market share of 23.2 per cent for the month compared to Holden’s 14.1 per cent. YTD Holden has a 15.4 per cent share.

The nearest rivals to Corolla were the Mazda3 (2121) and Holden Astra (1949), while the Honda Civic (1717) beat Ford’s Focus (1422) and a resurgent Mitsubishi Lancer (1498).

"While the overall market is down on last year and a few segments are in significant decline, the strength of commercial sales indicates that business confidence was very high," Mr Buttner said.

Yaris was significantly ahead of its light-car rivals last month, beating the Hyundai Getz (1964) and Holden Barina (1270). Ford’s Fiesta (490) was pipped at the post by the Suzuki Swift (934), Honda Jazz (876), Kia Rio (687) and Mazda2 (571). The RAV4 topped the compact SUV segment in the first six months with sales of 7999 – an increase of 27.3 per cent. Last month the RAV again outsold the Subaru Forester (1403), Nissan X-Trail (1256) and Honda CR-V (1229).

Toyota has also reasserted its leadership of the light-commercial vehicle market. HiLux has topped the 4x2 and 4x4 pick-up/cab-chassis segments YTD, with combined HiLux sales up 40.1 per cent for the year-to-date. HiAce controls the van segment with an almost 40 per cent share, its sales increasing 53.6 per cent so far this year.

Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Peter Sturrock said that underlying consumer confidence was still strong with buyers shrugging off petrol prices and an interest rate rise.

The overall new-vehicle market in the first six months of this year has softened 3.4 per cent on the record first half set last year.

Light-car sales were up 9298 vehicles or 19.6 per cent for the first six months compared with 2005, while small car sales rose 2994 vehicles or 2.8 per cent for the period over last year.

"The June results were a continuation of the strong trend towards smaller cars, which has been evident for more than a year and has clearly been accelerated by the recent substantial increase in fuel prices," Mr Sturrock said. "In broad terms, consumers remain enthusiastic about new-car purchases, although they are clearly making different choices." The FCAI believes the arrival of the VE Commodore, new Camry and Aurion will lift sales in the second half.

Top five brands:

1 Toyota 104,619 (sales) 21.7% (share)
2 Holden 74,399 15.4%
3 Ford 60,277 12.5%
4 Mazda 32,516 6.7%
5 Mitsu 28,012 5.8%

Category stand-outs:

Light
1 Toyota Yaris 23.2%
2 Hyundai Getz 18.8%
3 Honda Barina 13.1% Small
1 Toyota Corolla 21.7%
2 Mazda3 14.9%
3 Holden Astra 9.6% Medium (under $55,000)
1 Toyota Camry 4 29.0%
2 Mazda6 21.8%
3 Honda Accord Euro 17.6% Large (under $80,000)
1 Holden Commodore 41.0%
2 Ford Falcon 33.9%
3 Mitsubishi 380 10.4% SUV Compact
1 Toyota RAV4 20.5%
2 Subaru Forester 17.0%
3 Nissan X-Trail 14.1% SUV Medium
1 Ford Territory 31.8%
2 Toyota Prado 22.1%
3 Toyota Kluger 8.9% SUV Luxury
1 Mercedes M-class 15.1%
2 Lexus RX 14.0%
3 BMW X5 12.9% Source: VFACTS, June 2006

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