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Fortuner to give Toyota SUVs a boost

Small wonder: Toyota is without a player in the burgeoning small-SUV segment, but a production version of the C-HR concept is likely in 2016 or 2017.

Toyota’s local heritage is SUVs and it is building on that history

22 Oct 2015

TOYOTA Australia says unprecedented demand for the all-new HiLux pick-up and its just-launched Fortuner SUV sibling means there is not enough available stock on the ground to satisfy demand.

The Japanese car-maker’s local arm said that the Fortuner has been restricted to about 500 units a month, while the HiLux is replicating initial demand that greeted its 86 sportscar.

 Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the Fortuner’s allocation was “nowhere near enough” and HiLux was even stronger than anticipated, with some variants nearly sold out.

“HiLux is going much better than we thought and in the Northern Territory they are already stating January delivery,” he said. “We could do 5000 orders this month for HiLux, it's gone crazy.”

The Fortuner joins the existing SUV range that includes the RAV4, Prado, Kluger, FJ Cruiser, LandCruiser 200 and the workhorse 70-Series 4WD wagon.

Mr Cramb said that the Fortuner would not cannibalise other SUV models in Toyota’s range, rather it will stop people who are looking for a diesel SUV that is more affordable than a Prado from leaving for other brands.

So far this year, Toyota has increased its SUV sales by 3.9 per cent to a total of 43,553 vehicles, a worthwhile chunk of a market segment that has already topped 300,000 so far this year – representing more than a third of the market for the first time and an increase of 40,311 sales or 15.4 per cent.

The brand is not done for the year, with a refreshed 200 Series LandCruiser and the updated RAV4 mid-sizer undergoing a styling and specification change near the end of the year, but it’s the small-SUV segment where the brand is absent and Mr Cramb is keen to change that.

A new sub-compact SUV – previewed by the C-HR concept last shown at the Frankfurt motor show – is set to fill a gap in the car-maker’s line-up, and while Mr Cramb suggested it was not yet locked in for Australia, it is likely to arrive either next year or in 2017.

“We're trying to secure the C-HR, clearly there is a market here for it,” he said.

The production version of the new five-door SUV is built on the brand’s new global platform reportedly shared with the next Prius, so a hybrid version is likely.

Toyota says the production car will be revealed at the Geneva motor show early next year.

Australia’s small SUV segment is the fastest-growing in the new-vehicle market, up 30 per cent or just under 20,000 sales for the year so far.

“Sales are increasing every month, it's the fastest growing segment in the market and now becoming a big segment, it's hurting us from a share point of view not having something in there and we're definitely losing customers to other brands there,” he said.

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