News - Toyota - Avalon
Avalon to retire
Toyota Avalon will stop production in June – but promises a strong comeback next year
24 Mar 2005
TOYOTA Australia’s flagship sedan will disappear from showrooms for up to 12 months following a decision to cease Avalon production in June.
The company announced on Friday its large sedan would be put on hold while it introduces new high-tech manufacturing facilities to produce its next-generation Camry and Avalon models due on sale next year.
With production at Altona ending on June 28, Avalon stocks are expected to run out early in the third quarter of this year, leaving Toyota without a Commodore and Falcon rival until a replacement arrives a few months after the redesigned Camry’s release in mid-2006.
While production of the current 380N Camry will continue unaffected until its all-new replacement arrives, Toyota has optimistic hopes that increased popularity of next year’s new-generation Avalon will account for lost sales in the interim.
Toyota Australia’s executive director of sales and marketing, Dave Buttner, told GoAuto that although ceasing Avalon production was regrettable, the decision would sure-up Avalon’s long-term future.
"Don’t read anything into it," he said. "We want a large six-cylinder entrant and the next-generation Avalon will be it.
"We had 5000 options available to us, but we had to stop one model. While Camry will continue seamlessly, our hope is that any drop-off in Avalon sales will be compensated for by the new model."Indeed, Mr Buttner said the forecasted increase in volume achieved with the 2006 models and beyond would "more than compensate for pause in production".
He also confirmed Toyota Australia’s shift to a single, fully flexible global body line for its next-generation models - instead of separate main jig lines for both the Avalon and Camry models currently produced at Altona - necessitated the Avalon production line shutdown.
The Toyota marketing boss reiterated Toyota’s commitment to the large-sedan market in Australia, where Avalon – at the rate of about 480 sales per month – combined with V6 Camry models to attract around just 11 per cent of large-car sales last year.
"We’ve got to compete in the big six market," he said. "Avalon has put our engineers, marketers and dealers on a great learning curve, and we’re now ready to capitalise on that."
Mr Buttner (left) said the recent fall in share of the large-car market, which now represents around 23 per cent of total vehicles sales, was no cause for concern.
"Large-car is what we call an entrenched segment of the market – that is, it would take a huge shift in culture to change significantly. And remember, it’s private – not fleet or government - buyers that are turning away from large cars as they shift into SUVs and the like," he said.
Launched in July 2000, the Avalon was billed as "likely to have a profound effect on the large-car market" with around 15 per cent of sales in the segment. At the time, Toyota also expected to achieve 24,000 Avalon sales within its first full year of sale.
According to VFACTS, Toyota sold less than half that projected figure (11,760) in 2001, for a 6.2 per cent share of the large-car market. Since then, Avalon sales have fallen away markedly, with 8588 sales in 2002 (a 4.6 per cent share), 6064 sales in 2003 (3.0 per cent) and 5584 sales in 2004 (3.1 per cent).
In the first two months of 2005, it sold 602 Avalons for a mere 2.5 per cent share of the large-car market.
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