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Toyota backs next-generation Aurion

Slipper: Aurion sales were down 28.9 per cent in 2009.

Toyota’s big six Aurion to stay despite competition from Camry Hybrid

Toyota logo9 Feb 2010

TOYOTA Australia has backed its slow-selling Aurion six-cylinder despite conceding the new Camry Hybrid is likely to snatch some of its customers.

The company’s sales and marketing director David Buttner has indicated that the Aurion will both be part of its next-generation locally made sedan line-up, alongside the next Camry, which will be introduced locally in 2012.

Asked if both cars would be replaced at that time, Mr Buttner replied: “We are on the road positively for the next generation.”

When asked specifically whether Aurion would be dropped at that point, Mr Buttner told GoAuto: “No. For us, Aurion has been a good strategy.”

He admits Toyota Australia did consider whether the Camry Hybrid could replace the V6 Aurion, but said it decided to keep the large car competitor.

“We did all those sorts of analysis and we felt that for our volume aspirations and our market share aspirations, maintaining Aurion V6 was an appropriate decision,” he said.

Toyota said this week that the Aurion and petrol Camry are set to lose a combined total of 5000 sales a year, thanks to the introduction of the new Camry Hybrid.

8 center image Left: Toyota Camry Hybrid. Below: Toyota Aurion.

The company made the unusual admission that half of the 10,000 cars it intends to build in 2010 would go to customers currently in Aurion or Camry vehicles at the launch of the new petrol-electric mid-size model in Melbourne this week.

Despite a sales result of just 13,910 in 2009, which was 28.9 per cent down on 2008 and only just pipping the Camry V6 sales total in 2004, Mr Buttner said the Aurion was meeting its targets.

“We had an objective of achieving a 15 per cent market share, we have achieved that share,” he said.

“The Aurion still made a valuable contribution when it came to adding volume at Toyota’s Victorian plant. For us it has been a good strategy assisting to maintain strong volumes of locally produced at Altona,” he said.

Toyota was intensely critical of large six-cylinder sedans in its launch presentation for the Camry Hybrid, using the Holden Commodore as a reference to show the savings that could be made by purchasing the petrol-electric model.

That left the company open to criticism given the entry-level Commodore uses 0.6 litres per 100km less than the Aurion, according to the official ADR standard.

A journalist asked if six-cylinder large cars were so thirsty and expensive, why did Toyota continue to produce the Aurion?“We always have had the approach of trying to compete in as many segments as possible,” said Mr Buttner.

“There are 16 segments in the Australian marketplace and we compete in 13 of those. Part of our long-term appeal is that we do have entrants in those segments and we have a vehicle that meets the diverse and ever-changing needs of the consumer.”

It is likely the Aurion will be affected by the Camry Hybrid, with Toyota itself talking up the hybrid’s ability to lure customers who have decided to move out of their large six-cylinder cars and opt for something smaller.

“Up until this juncture we haven’t been in the best position to attract those downsizers to Toyota. So it is a very strong desire for us to use Hybrid Camry as a step down point for those large six downsizers that we haven’t been able to get,” he said.

“We would have our head in the sand if we sat back and thought all these units would be incremental.

“When we look at bringing in a new model into the market place, the one key thing we are always looking at is incremental sales and if you have 100 per cent substitution then there really is no advantage in introducing a new model into the market place.

“We expect there will be some substitution from petrol Camry and Aurion, and possibly some other models in our range, but at this stage our best estimate is 5000 incremental sales.”

Mr Buttner said while there would be some direct sales substation early on, the Camry Hybrid could create more interest in the Camry brand, acting as a halo model which would in turn lead to more sales of the petrol version as well as the hybrid.

He said it was unlikely the Camry Hybrid would not significantly cut into Prius sales as the customers were likely to be different.

“We believe the buyer profile is different, but there may be some substitution,” Mr Buttner said.

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