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Toyota HiLux anticipation ‘unprecented’

Five out of five: Revisions to the Toyota HiLux’s safety and specs package were done in consultation with large commercial operators to ensure a good order book.

New HiLux set to be a boon for Toyota sales as launch date draws near

Toyota logo2 Sep 2015

By TIM ROBSON

WITH the launch of the new HiLux a little over a month away, Toyota is bracing for a sales storm from both private and business buyers.

The eighth generation of the category-leading ladder-chassis ute will launch locally in October with 31 variants – up from 23 – slated for sale. A high-performance version may be among the newcomers, as well.

Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb told GoAuto that while he couldn’t discuss figures, the company was holding a significant order bank.

“They’re above our expectations,” he said of HiLux pre-orders. “We don’t expect to have retail orders at this stage usually we do expect to have fleet orders and we’ve got them locked away, but the fact we are already holding retail orders is extraordinary.

“The interest is unprecedented.”

Mr Cramb said that the fate – and ongoing future – of fleet sales was taken in-hand during the development of the HiLux, with revisions to elements such as safety specifications undertaken in conjunction with some of its potential customers.

“Lots of development work was done with the bigger mining companies and construction companies that are heavily involved with the HiLux,” he said. “The chief engineer of the project, Nakajima, met with these companies, and the vehicle was always going to meet their requirements.”

The company has emphasised in the past that it will pursue the private buyer sector with revised versions of popular utes including the SR5, an area where arch-rival Ford has made up ground with its Ranger, which trails the HiLux in local sales.

Mr Cramb acknowledged the Ranger’s place in the market, but refuted the idea that having access to the specifications and pricing of the just-launched Mark II Ranger will have a bearing on the direction of the HiLux.

“They (Ford) have certainly introduced a good product in their Ranger and it certainly deserves our respect, as do most of the other makes in the market,” he said. “But HiLux has its own culture, and we have a group of HiLux customers that cannot wait for the vehicle to be launched.

“What Ford does certainly is of interest to us, but it doesn’t guide how we come to market or how we specify the vehicles.”

He also made mention of the deep and wide pool of potential customers that already exists for the new-generation HiLux.

“Frankly, if we were to simply replace each HiLux owner’s vehicle out there, it would take eight years for us to get through the sales volume,” he noted.

Currently in run-out mode, HiLux 4x4 sales broke through the 15,000-unit barrier for 2015 at the end of July, notching up 15,022 sales. The figure is some 1000 units less than for the same period in 2014.

Including 4x2 sales, HiLux is sitting on 21,360 units so far this year, while the Ford Ranger has notched up 16,157 and Mitsubishi’s new Triton is just behind on 15,947 sales.

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