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Toyota hikes prices, predicts downturn

Pricey: LandCruiser 200 Series pricing now tops $81,000.

Toyota predicts market downturn and blames hefty price rises on steel costs and LCT

Toyota logo8 Jul 2008

TOYOTA Australia has blamed increased raw materials costs – chiefly the price of steel – and the Luxury Car Tax for significant July 1 price rises across most of its models.

While there is no price rise for the top-selling Yaris, Corolla, Camry or HiLux model lines - or the RAV4, Aurion or Prius - retail hikes have been applied to the rest of the range, including the LandCruiser, Prado, Kluger, Tarago, Avensis, HiAce and Coaster.

Biggest increases have been applied to the LandCruiser 200 Series wagon due solely to the proposed hike in the LCT, which will go before the Senate next month and is scheduled to be made retrospective to July 1. If the retrospective element of the legislation does not go through, Toyota says it will refund the increase to buyers.

Flagship Sahara versions of the LC200 have consequently risen in price by $2819 to $107,809 (for the top-shelf 4.5-litre V8 diesel, which previously cost $104,990) and by $2227 to $97,217, for the 4.7-litre V8 petrol variant, which previously cost $94,990.

At the same time, in response to customer demand, a sub fuel tank is now available on diesel Sahara and VX variants, but only when the moonroof and KDSS off-road suspension function is deleted, in which case the price reduces by $2648.

Other LC200 variants increase by $745 (the entry-level GXL 4.7, to $70,735) and $1338, for the VX 4.7 and GXL 4.5, which were both priced at $79,990 but now cost $81,328).

Meantime, Coaster pricing is up between $500 and $900, HiAce prices rise by between $300 and $500, Kluger prices stay the same at base level but increase by between $500 (KX-S) and $949 (Grande AWD), LandCruiser 70 Series ute prices lift by $500 across the range (which now starts at $54,490) and all diesel Prados are now at least $500 more expensive.

Apart from the new VE Sportwagon and revised Focus CL, there are no changes to either Holden or Ford’s model price lists from July 1.

“Certainly it (the July 1 price rise) wasn’t across the board - it was on selected models only,” Toyota Australia sales and marketing chief David Buttner told GoAuto.

“You’ve got to look at what’s happening globally to understand that type of increase – otherwise you’re sort of taking it out of context.

“For our local-manufactured product, based on the recent round of steel price negotiations, it’s something like a 52 per cent increase.

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“That’s just domestically here in Australia, so you look at the input cost we have, be it for aluminium or steel, into any Toyota product around the world - it has been the largest round of production cost increases in the history of the company,” said Mr Buttner.

Fresh from achieving the company’s best ever monthly sales result in June, when Toyota Australia became the first car company to sell more than 25,000 vehicles in a month, TMCA remains on target to sell a staggering 250,000 vehicles this year, when it could also post an unprecedented 25 per cent market share.

This is despite a sales downturn being expected in the second half of 2008 by Toyota’s sales and marketing director.

“Looking at the second half, and you’ve got to be careful because June’s never a good month to predict the rest of the year on, we run a 10-year rolling average model which takes into account the peaks in June and we reviewed it last Monday at the end of the retail month.

“We still see the market at over one million for the year and frankly I’d like to think that we could repeat the year-to-date June performance in the balance of the year as well.

“I would like to think we could approach those numbers (250,000 total sales and a 25 per cent market share), yes.

“It would be a record overall. I think we pulled 24.1 per cent in June to give us 23.5 per cent which is up 1.2 per cent – that’s significant share growth in the market.

“So the key thing there is that we’re always watching how much the market grows and how much we grow by, so we’ve grown three times the market which is where we’re meant to be.

“If you grow at the same pace as the market then you’re not growing as far as I’m concerned. You’re just treading water and keeping pace with the rest of the world. You’ve got a set of dealer aspirations for the future and you’ve got to continue to out-strip the market.

“We set out to sell in excess of 25,000 (vehicle in June). Our dealers got right behind the campaign and they’ve done a fantastic job not just to sell that number of vehicles, but having worked with the dealerships to ensure they have capability and capacity to do it, we did it with a very high level of customer satisfaction.

“While it’s a great result I’ve got to tell you we got the result through and we started talking about July because as you’ve heard me say before that at no point in time will we let arrogance or complacency set in.

“It’s a good result, we had a bit of a celebration and thanked everybody but now we’re back into it and worried about July. We’ve got to back up and there’s a lot of good product out there, a lot of competitors striving to do well, so we’ve just got to keep our eye on the game and keep going. (But) Naturally, we’re very, very happy with the result.

“We expect the second half to be tougher for the industry, although the final total should be similar to last year's record,” said Mr Buttner, who said increased LandCruiser, HiLux and Prado sales in June were due to freer turbo-diesel model supplies.

Mr Buttner also confirmed the “imminent” arrival of stability control for its Corolla for the first time. The updated Corolla is due on sale here in the final quarter of 2008.

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