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HiLux could take number-one spot

Aiming Hi: Toyota's popular HiLux has fearsomely consistent sales in Australia, and the all-new version could ensure it becomes the country's most popular vehicle.

Corolla may yield to all-new HiLux as Toyota's top-selling model Down Under

30 Sep 2015

UPDATED: 20/10/2015DESPITE growing competition from heavyweight rivals, the venerable Toyota HiLux continues to sell more units than any other one-tonne ute on Australian turf, but the freshly launched version could push sales into new territory.

Last year the Corolla found 43,735 homes in Australia but, with the honeymoon period fading since the model’s facelift in June, the new HiLux could be primed to win not just the company’s pole position but the title of Australia’s best-seller as well.

The HiLux’s sales performance is unprecedented, particularly given the previous generation has been around for 10 years, and while that is not uncommon for the light-commercial segment the new version launched late last month is expected to generate a spike in sales.

Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner told GoAuto the company was targeting 40,000 local registrations for 2016, but that figure could change.

“Anything is always possible,” he said. “We don’t sit around the planning table saying Corolla will be number one or HiLux will be number one. We set out in the marketplace to sell as many vehicles as we can in the segment and command as much share as we possibly can.”

Last year, Toyota sold 38,126 examples of the HiLux Down Under and is on course to record a similar figure this year, but only a relatively mild increase in interest could elevate the pick-up beyond Corolla and the Mazda3 (43,313 last year).

Year to date, Corolla has racked up 31,903 units – down 3.6 per cent on the same period last year, but still enough to lead the market, with Mazda3 next best on 29,513 (-10.8%), HiLux on 25,320 (-11.6%) and Hyundai’s i30 on 25,139 (+7.8%).

Mr Buttner confirmed that the 40,000 figure for HiLux had already been officially submitted to the total Toyota global production pool, but fluctuations in worldwide demand could release more units to Australia if the demand was higher.

“If we find that things start running at 100 miles per hour in the market we will have that conversation of securing extra allocation from the plant,” he said.

“It’s a feasible plan because what it depends on is how is a product going in each market. If in one market it doesn’t fire to expectations, that frees up capacity in the plant.”

While Toyota has worked hard to predict the uptake of the new model, Mr Buttner explained that the true demand would only be realised once the orders start rolling in.

“I think the market will tell us the story very quickly and we have every confidence in the product,” he said.

“On the back of HiLux’s really solid reputation, a lot of people have been buying HiLux for a very long time. It has great loyalty.”

GoAuto understands 3000 customers had made cash deposits for the new vehicle before pricing and exact specifications were made public.

Toyota has mounted a sizable advertising and promotional campaign for the new model, and Mr Buttner said attention from entertainment media such as the BBC’s Top Gear show had only helped the profile of HiLux.

“I think it reinforces the reputation it has already got,” he said. “Even on that show they referred to it as the unbreakable HiLux.

“It’s like a testimonial. They wouldn’t have had a story if they had picked something that fell to pieces.”

Features that are expected to increase sales of the eighth-generation HiLux include a wider range of variants which extend to 31 compared with the 23 of the previous generation, and a new Hi-Rider style, which brings the look of a 4x4 but the running gear and price of a 4x2.

Prices kick off from $20,990 plus on-road costs for the 2.7-litre petrol Workmate 4x2 single cab, cab chassis with manual gearbox, and rise to $57,990 for the 4x4 double cab pick-up SR5+ with automatic transmission and 2.8-litre diesel engine.

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