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SUVs a winning formula for Toyota

Triple threat: Toyota’s full SUV catalogue tops the charts again, with the RAV4 alone clocking up 12,119 sales for the first eight months of 2015.

Toyota Oz sales boss underlines its successes in SUV market in no uncertain terms


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3 Sep 2015

UPDATED: 15/09/2015MARKET leader Toyota took the opportunity to underline its dominance of the surging SUV segment in Australia at the launch of its updated Prado earlier this month.

Although currently without a contender in the burgeoning small SUV segment – the fastest-growing class, with sales up 30.7 per cent this year – Toyota still rules the roost when it comes to total SUV sales.

It enjoys podium positions across the medium, large and upper-large categories – holding outright leadership in all bar the mid-size segment, where RAV4 is second to the Mazda CX-5 – and has racked up no fewer than 38,232 total SUV registrations year-to-date.

As well as RAV4, Toyota’s SUV line-up currently includes Kluger, Prado, LandCruiser and FJ Cruiser, with the HiLux-based Fortuner set to join the ranks later this year and a small SUV expected during 2016.

The dominant Japanese brand currently holds a 14.4 per cent share of all SUV sales across the market, well ahead of second-placed Nissan on 9.9 per cent and 26,280 sales YTD.

Notwithstanding the fact that Toyota’s stranglehold on the segment has loosened from 27 per cent in 2008, Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the company’s SUV line-up had still dominated the sector for years, and was set to continue that trend.

“This is a leadership position we have held since the term SUV was adopted, and for decades before that when these vehicles were known more generally as all-terrain wagons,” he said at the Prado launch in Canberra.

“We’ve sold 46 per cent more SUVs than any other brand this year, a lead of more than 10,000 vehicles. The changes we’ve announced for Prado are also important for a vehicle which is again the top-selling large SUV in 2015.

“These vehicles make a vital contribution to Toyota’s overall market leadership.”

SUVs make up 28.7 per cent of Toyota’s sales this year, marking a 3.0 per cent increase over the same period last year and pushing ahead of light commercial vehicles – sales of which have fallen 3.4 per cent this year and currently account for 26.2 per cent of the brand’s sales.

Toyota passenger car sales have also dipped into negative territory, down 0.1 per cent for the year to date and making up 45.1 per cent of total brand sales – a figure that is expected to fall as buyers continue to gravitate towards SUVs, and as new models come on line.

In the medium SUV segment, RAV4 has clocked up 12,119 sales to the end of August (+1.3 per cent) to be 4573 units behind the CX-5 (16,692) – the biggest-selling SUV in Australia.

Toyota holds the top two spots in the large SUV segment, with the Kluger notching up 9231 sales – a whopping 34.7 per cent ahead YTD – while the Prado leads the segment on 9779 units.

The latter figure is actually down 10.8 per cent, but is expected to recover with the updated new model, while the retro-inspired single-variant FJ Cruiser has contributed 1018 sales, down 21.7 per cent YTD.

No other brand can get close to Toyota’s combined total of more than 20,000 units in this segment, with Fiat Chrysler Australia next best with around 11,500 units – most of these are for the Jeep Grand Cherokee (second in class on 8219 units, but down 28.5 per cent YTD), with the Jeep Wrangler (1471), Fiat Freemont (975) and Dodge Journey (909) adding incremental volume.

In the upper-large segment, Toyota’s 200 Series LandCruiser dominates the Nissan Patrol, notching up 6085 sales so far this year (+0.8 per cent) to the Nissan’s 1269 (+1.4 per cent).

Mr Cramb said that for the first time ever, SUVs now represent more than one-third (34.8 per cent) of the total new-vehicle market, with passenger car sales falling 3.4 per cent year-on-year.

“And it looks like all of those people have moved straight into SUVs,” he noted. “It’s the only segment that has grown its segment this year. To the end of (August), SUV sales have risen more than (33,000) units.

“In a product-led industry, the SUV juggernaut is set to continue its growth.”

Mr Cramb told GoAuto that while his remarks were not directed at a particular competitor, he felt it was important to underline the company’s strengths in the SUV arena.

“We sometimes get told about different things that are happening and what the competitors are saying, and sometimes it’s a helpful reminder where the customers are actually choosing to go, that’s all,” he said.

“In the end, they decide. It’s not some marketer or a planner in a room that decides, or a PR group that spin a particular set of facts. It’s the reality of each vehicle in its segment being fit for the purpose the guest wants it for, providing it at great value then looking after them during the experience. That’s actually what earns those kinds of statistics.”

He denied that the remarks were intended to “rattle anyone’s cage”.

“I’m saying just remember that we’re going okay when it comes to SUVs,” he said. “We’ve got a bit of credibility in SUVs. We’re not arrogant at all (but) we’re not satisfied, we’re never satisfied.

“The customers are choosing us in many more occasions than anyone else.”

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