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Toyota slashes TRD pricing

Nationwide: TRD Aurion and upcoming TRD HiLux at MIMS.

Toyota strips up to $4500 from the price of its TRD Aurion as blown HiLux hovers

3 Mar 2008

TOYOTA has slashed $4000 from the retail price of its homegrown TRD Aurion, a day after it said it was satisfied with the number of supercharged sedans it has sold.

The March 1 announcement sees the entry-level TRD Aurion 3500S price reduce from $56,990 to $52,990 and the flagship 3500SL version’s sticker price drop from $61,500 to $56,990 – a reduction of $4510.

TRD Aurion options prices were also cut from this month, but there are no changes to either variant’s specifications.

At the opening of the Melbourne International Motor Show on Friday (February 29), Toyota Australia’s senior executive director of sales and marketing David Buttner said the company was “comfortable” with TRD Aurion sales.

“We are comfortable with TRD sales so far,” he said. “We are establishing the brand and that takes time. We think the TRD Aurion has sold very well.

“Franbkly, no we haven’t been disappointed (with sales) because when you establish a brand, while of course you want it to be accepted in the marketplace and selling strongly from day one, the marketplace already has two other performance vehicle brands and European performance brands selling quite well, it’s going to take time.

“It’s something that people didn’t necessarily expect from Toyota, so it’s going to take the public time to get used to that, (to) understand more about it… Our new mass-marketing approach will help with all that. TRD is here to stay,” he said.

Toyota’s locally designed, developed and manufactured TRD Aurion was launched on August 20 last year but sales were suspended in the second week of September after only a handful of cars had been delivered.

Sales of the brand’s first TRD-badged model recommenced in mid-October after being withdrawn from sale for more than a month, during which time an investigation was conducted to identify the cause of a reported engine failure in the hands of a Toyota dealer. As a result, the TRD Aurion’s rev-limit was reduced as a precautionary measure.

8 center imageLeft: Toyota Australia’s senior executive director of sales and marketing David Buttner.

With average sales of 40 per month during its four full months on sale, the TRD Aurion has attracted less than 200 sales so far. At that rate, Toyota would have sold only about 600 TRD vehicles in its first year.

The local performance partner for GM Holden, Holden Special Vehicles, sold a record 5222 vehicles last year, including more than 1000 exports to New Zealand, the UK (badged as Vauxhaulls) and the Middle East, where HSV cars wear Chevrolet Special Vehicles badges.

Mr Buttner said Australia’s most popular car make was also investigating the potential for exporting the Toyota Racing Development brand. He said the company’s recent annual sports conversion conference saw Toyota representatives from the US, Canada, Japan and Thailand drive Australian-built TRD vehicles in Victoria.

But Toyota’s sales and marketing chief said that the strong Australian dollar has had a negative impact on the profitability of its export business, which last year accounted for two-thirds of its total sales volume.

Toyota sold about 100,000 vehicles to overseas markets led by the Middle East in 2007 and hopes to increase that number to 110,000 in 2008. It will increase the manufacturing capacity of its Altona plant to 160,000 next year, a larger proportion of which it hopes will be sold in Australia.

“When you’re an exporter in US dollars it (exporting profitably) is difficult,” said Mr Buttner. “The challenge is to sell more cars locally.”

Mr Buttner said Toyota was currently building the TRD Aurion, which is produced alongside the Camry and standard Aurion at Altona, to dealer orders and that the TRD HiLux, which made its final production appearance at Melbourne before going on sale in late April, would increase TRD interest.

Full specifications of the supercharged 4.0-litre V6-powered HiLux will not be revealed for some weeks, but Toyota said that with 225kW on tap the dual-cab 4x4 ute delivers 25 per cent more peak power “yet uses less fuel than the standard vehicle”.

Mr Buttner again confirmed a third TRD model was in the pipeline but said it was unlikely to appear at the Sydney motor show in October.

“We’ve been talking about it and certainly there’s a third TRD model on the drawing board and it will be very exciting,” he said.

As announced at Melbourne, Toyota also extended its TRD brand to include its entire dealer network from March 1.

Mr Buttner said the availability of TRD sales and service beyond the 41 specially trained dealerships it announced at launch would better service its customers without reducing the perceived exclusivity of Toyota’s go-faster brand.

“On reflection earlier this year we felt we were losing the opportunity to mass-market the product through a limited network – all of our multi-media campaigns, all of our press advertising. So we reflected very, very heavily (and) made the decision to expand it to the network.

“The way you do it is to remain true to the original objectives, to ensure you do have trained technicians, you do have sales staff who understand the vehicle and you provide exemplary customer service. We won’t walk away from those commitments.

“TRD is our performance brand, which is very young and yet to be established in this marketplace. It will continue as you saw with our involvement in motorsport, to leverage the TRD brand and get the brand out there.

“I think that because of our longevity in the marketplace and the fact the brand is recognised for quality, durability and longevity that we’d like to think that this actually reinforces that (exclusivity factor).

“While it’s our performance brand, you can purchase it though any Toyota dealer and get the same service and parts backup in you local community, so we think it’s an enhancement to the brand over and above our original commitment.

“We haven’t ramped up our sales expectations at all because we want this to be a pull franchise, not a push franchise, to retain the exclusivity that we’ve talked about,” he said. “I think the interest in the TRD HiLux, which will be unique in its class, has already been phenomenal.”

Read more:

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