Future Models - Toyota 2012 HiLux

Toyota 2012 HiLux Top dog: Toyota's HiLux has 'a couple of years' to run before it is due for replacement.

Top dog: Toyota's HiLux has 'a couple of years' to run before it is due for replacement.

Toyota set to prime HiLux for hot competition ahead of new model in 2012

TOYOTA has promised to leave no stone unturned to keep its top-selling light truck, the HiLux, competitive against a raft of new pretenders to the throne, with more HiLux model activity due next year ahead of an all-new eighth-generation model in about two years.

Speaking at the Australian International Motor Show, where Volkswagen’s all-new Amarok, Ford’s new Ranger ute and its mechanical twin, the Mazda BT-50, all arrived on a mission to take a chunk out of HiLux’s sales dominance, Toyota Australia senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner said Toyota watched with respect everything its competitors did, but also was committed to ensuring the success of HiLux.

“We have a strong desire to make sure that it remains a top-seller in this market place,” he said.

Mr Buttner said the current HiLux – launched five years ago and updated last year – still had “a couple of years to run” before its next scheduled total makeover.

“But along the way, as we are doing that, we are in the middle of a technical change and we will have some more model activity next year,” he said. “So you keep refreshing, revitalising the model.

“It has always been an extremely competitive segment. And I think the most significant task we have is to ensure we still offer the value for money and specification that our customers want.”

Toyota2012 HiLux center imageFrom top: Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Volkswagen Amarok, Toyota Australia’s senior executive director of sales and marketing David Buttner at the Sydney show.

On the eve of the Sydney show, Toyota added electronic stability control for its popular high-end SR5 Dual Cab 4x4 diesel HiLux as part of a bundle of electronic safety devices that are expected to be rolled out to other variants over time.

The SR5 Dual Cab also gained 17-inch wheels, while ABS option packs for other models were enhanced with extra features or a price cut.

About one in every four utes sold in Australia is a HiLux – a position Toyota has enjoyed for years – and the Japanese giant has so far sold almost 700,000 HiLux utes in this country.

HiLux is routinely a top-selling vehicle – bar none – in Queensland and West Australia and has even topped the nation-wide monthly sales charts five times against all comers, including Holden’s Commodore passenger car and Toyota’s own once-dominant small car, the Corolla.

Mr Buttner said the HiLux DNA was still strong in the marketplace.

“It has a really great loyalty factor among its customers,” he said. “But we never look at the HiLux market share or volume in any arrogant way, and we watch everything that our competitors do to make sure we remain competitive.” Asked if the new, more car-like competitors now arriving on the market were a concern for Toyota, Mr Buttner said Toyota had already made that step with its current HiLux bridging the gap between utilitarian workhorse and weekend recreational vehicle.

“I think it was a huge leap and it (HiLux) was probably the first vehicle to really try to get that ride and handling of a passenger vehicle and while maintaining the ruggedness of a utility-type range,” he said.

So far this year, Toyota has sold 30,127 HiLux utes – up 14.1 per cent on last year.

In the booming 4x4 ute sub-segment, HiLux holds a 26.4 per cent share this year, with volumes up 17.8 per cent on last year.

Utes generally have a longer model cycle than passenger cars and by the time the next new HiLux rolls around, it will have been in the showrooms in its basic form for about seven years.

However, some rivals are even older. The Holden Colorado and closely related Isuzu D-Max have been around since 2003 and still have at least another year to run.

Toyota 2012 HiLux Top dog: Toyota's HiLux has 'a couple of years' to run before it is due for replacement.

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