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Daihatsu pins hopes on YRV-led resurgence

Range toppers: Daihatsu's all-new YRV wagon (front) and another key addition to the range, the Sirion GTvi.

Daihatsu embarks on on ambitious sales plan with the YRV at the helm

11 Jul 2001

DAIHATSU has been relegated to the role of virtual also-ran in recent years but company officials say the all-new YRV wagon - launched last week - represents a milestone in its planned resurgence.

Toyota Australia took charge of Daihatsu's local subsidiary in July last year and a spate of model revisions have followed, but this has had little effect on sales so far.

The Japanese small-car/light truck specialist sold just 5397 vehicles last year, well short of the 16,000-plus sales it achieved in 1992.

"They (last year's sales) are miserable numbers, but it's short term," Toyota Australia senior executive vice-president John Conomos said.

He said the immediate goal was to stabilise Daihatsu sales at 6000 to 7000 cars over the next two to three years, but the long-term aim is far more ambitious - 25,000 annual sales after five years.

Part of the company's planned resurgence will be built on the familiar "Daihatsu, that's who" catchcry.

The YRV's arrival rounds off a spate of updates to Daihatsu's local line-up over the past 12 months - key additions to the range have included the Sirion GTvi and budget-priced Cuore.

Daihatsu has set a conservative sales target of 1000 to 1200 annual sales for the $17,990 YRV, even though it appears to represent better value than the Toyota Echo.

There are no other products confirmed for the immediate pipeline so the marque's line-up is likely to remain unchanged until the end of next year, according to Daihatsu Australia national manager Wayne Gabriel.

"The YRV is the last piece in a complex jigsaw puzzle - its platform forms the basis for the Australian market, " Mr Gabriel said.

"Daihatsu has the most desirable and marketable products it has had in years - we have aspired to this for 12 months." There is a chance of change - a turbocharged, all-wheel drive version of the YRV may arrive here next year, but high cost may count against it.

Mr Gabriel suggested the force-fed YRV would also attract high insurance premiums, which could rule it out for most of the under-25 buyers that would be the primary target market for the car.

Daihatsu has ditched a handful of well-established nameplates over the past few years - Charade, Applause, Rocky and Feroza - but there are no plans to reintroduce them as company officials suggest they were recognised individually rather than as part of the Daihatsu family.

The brand also plans to refocus its attention on producing small cars rather than trying to edge upmarket - as Hyundai aims to do.

Mr Gabriel said the local dealer network would also be pared through natural attrition to boost throughput by around 20 per cent. There are currently 98 Daihatsu dealers - compared with 120 last year - and about 30 per cent of these also sell Toyotas.

At a global level Daihatsu is in sound health, having turned over a $246 million profit last year.

"Daihatsu is a small but important local player and we aim to consolidate the local franchise," Mr Conomos said.

"We've moved away from small cars in recent times but we need to regain that ground now." Last 12 months at Daihatsu: 2000:
July - Daihatsu Australia joined Toyota Motor Cars Australia
July - Cuore launched
August - Sirion GTvi launched
September - Terios facelift
October - Sirion 1.0 facelift 2001:
February - Cuore facelift
July - YRV launched

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