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Corolla likely to be third TRD model

Ute cred: What the HiLux TRD could look like. Digital image: Chris Harris.

Corolla firms as Toyota's third TRD model, as all-new rally rocket takes shape

9 Feb 2007

TOYOTA is still undecided about its third Toyota Racing Development model to follow the Aurion sedan TRD and HiLux ute TRD in 2007.

But the betting is sharpening on the next-generation Corolla, which is due to be unveiled at next month’s Melbourne motor show.

However, Toyota’s sales and marketing chief, David Buttner, refuses to confirm which direction TRD would take with the third model.

"Our plan is to have three models and we’ve locked in Aurion and HiLux and we’re now going through the deliberations about what should be the third model," he said.

The pilot build for the TRD Aurion is now well under way and this will be the first TRD car to hit the road after its delayed Melbourne motor show launch, followed by the HiLux - despite the fact that Toyota is tipped to show off a HiLux TRD show car at the Melbourne show.

If the Corolla is chosen as the next TRD performance vehicle, Toyota has a number of engine options available overseas that could slide under the Corolla bonnet, including the 3.5-litre V6 shared with the Aurion, a 130kW/400Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel and the Camry 117kW/218Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder.

However, there are obvious issues with putting the V6 into the larger next-generation Corolla as it could potentially cannibalise sales from Aurion.

"We’ve got a number of cars in the (TRD) mix and I think we’ll decide on the third car by August," Mr Buttner said.

Meanwhile, Mr Buttner said Toyota remained confident in Prodrive’s local business operations, despite the sacking two weeks ago of key Ford Performance Vehicle executives.

Unlike TRD, Prodrive is the majority shareholder in FPV with a 51 per cent stake.



8 center imageLeft: Corolla Super 2000 development car.Prodrive’s TRD business is on a contract basis for staffing and operations.

There is also a clear differentiation of Prodrive’s TRD business and FPV business.

Prodrive is the supplier of production services for TRD and will be responsible for final assembly for the HiLux and Aurion TRD models.

However, Toyota remains responsible for the car’s engineering, design and engine changes.

Mr Buttner said he understood why Prodrive had taken the actions it had.

"They’ll still be run as separate operations but to pull some cost out of the back end they’re (Prodrive) looking at how they can consolidate their administration, which makes 100 per cent sense," he said.

"So they’re just looking at how they can offer their customers better service, more efficiencies and better rates.

"From our point of view it looked positive."Mr Buttner said that from Toyota’s point of view confidentiality remained crucial to its TRD and Prodrive business and he had no reason to think this had changed.

"We are very confident about the future."As far as TRD exports go, the Middle East is low on Toyota’s horizon.

Discussions had been held with New Zealand as a starting point but had not progressed to include other destinations, he said.

"At this stage we’re not having any firm discussions about TRD exports," he said.

As the TRD Toyota’s will remain niche products in the short term, any export moves would require more mainstream production to ensure the export volumes were sufficient.

Toyota Oz first to fettle next-gen Corolla racer
Meantime, Toyota Australia has announced it will become the first operation in the world to homologate the next-generation Corolla to the FIA's international Super 2000 rally regulations.

Toyota Oz today announced it has begun the initial stage of building two new-shape vehicles at TRD's Canberra base.

In the meantime, a current-shape Corolla has been converted from its previous Group N Prototype specification to Super 2000 specification for development and evaluation purposes.

TRD will introduce two brand-new Super 2000 Corollas during round three of this year's championship in Canberra in early June.

Read more:

Read more: Prodrive's fast track into Asia


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