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TRD gets the axe
Discontinued: Toyota has ended the short and chequered history of its special vehicles operation.
Toyota springs a pre-Christmas shock with decision to close its TRD operation
19 December 2008
TOYOTA Australia has axed its high-performance special vehicle division, Toyota Racing Developments.
Choosing to announce the decision on the Friday afternoon before Christmas, Toyota heralded the sudden closure as “an operational change”.
The TRD operation will cease from March 31, 2009 and Toyota says its 17 employees will be redeployed within the company.
TRD has been troubled from the outset, afflicted by development problems, delayed launches and an embarrassing engine failure that forced its first model, the supercharged V6 Aurion, off the market for a month.
Slow sales also forced Toyota to drop prices by as much as $5000 and to sell the vehicles through all its dealers rather than the original ‘elite’ group.
Toyota said in a statement that the TRD closure is the result of an on-going review that “has been amplified by the world economic downturn and the need to achieve significant operational efficiencies”.
Although the company has been careful not to reveal its sales targets, it has now said that a total of only 888 TRD vehicles have been sold to the end of November, consisting of 537 TRD Aurions (launched in August 2007) and 351 TRD HiLux (launched in April this year).
Toyota Australia’s senior executive director of sales and marketing, David Buttner, who said that TRD had been five years in the planning, made the announcement this afternoon.
“Toyota has a responsibility to ensure its core business activities, and the people who rely on them, are protected for the long term,” he said.
“Toyota made a significant financial commitment to TRD vehicle conversion and clearly understood short-term profitability was unlikely.
“However, the perspective has changed for business globally and those new rules require tough decisions for the greater good. This is one of those decisions.
“With the realities of the financial crisis and the downturn in consumer confidence, companies worldwide have an overriding responsibility to do their utmost to conserve cash – and Toyota is doing just that.
“The decision to move TRD’s focus from vehicle conversion was made with the best interest of its customers and its network in mind. In the current circumstances, the decision is correct and the outcome will be positive.”
Mr Buttner said all TRD owners would be covered by Toyota’s new-vehicle warranty and the company would guarantee the continuing supply of parts to meet its legal obligations.
The company did not comment on the future of its dominant TRD rally team run out of Canberra by 2008 national champion Neal Bates for himself and 2006/2007 champion Simon Evans.
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