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Toyota rules out VW diesel assault

Clean machine: The new-generation Toyota Prius is set to arrive in the first quarter of 2016, but don’t expect Toyota Australia to take advantage of Volkswagen’s misfortunes to promote it.

Volkswagen diesel scandal won’t give hybrids a sales boost, says Toyota

22 Oct 2015

TOYOTA Australia has ruled out any attempt to take advantage of rival Volkswagen’s diesel engine scandal to promote its petrol-electric hybrid vehicle sales.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said this week that he did not expect the diesel software problem to bolster petrol hybrid sales, and nor would his company consider referencing the situation in any promotional material.

“We wouldn't go down that path,” he said.

Toyota will launch its new-generation Prius in Australia in the first quarter of next year, about six months after it made its debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Speaking at the Australian launch for the new HiLux-based Fortuner large SUV, Mr Cramb said that compared with other markets, previous Prius generations had not sold as well as expected in Australia because of the lack of government incentives enjoyed in other regions.

Mr Cramb said Camry Hybrid had generated good volumes, but Prius – which he described as an icon – was more a statement about the future of the company and technology.

“I think hybrid here in terms of Prius is not the volume we would have anticipated,” he said.

“Having said that, the Camry hybrid is flying – we can't supply to the demand of that vehicle, particularly since May when we revised the styling and pricing.

“We're selling 600 Camry Hybrids a month. People who buy the Prius are making a statement. Camry Hybrid (buyers) are using more rational reasons for going down that path and there are more doing that.”

Mr Cramb described Prius as a “statement vehicle”.

“The new design has been launched, and it's for those who want to make a green statement,” he said.

“It's not huge volume but it's a really important of what we stand for into the future.”

Toyota’s hybrid vehicle sales tally passed eight million last year, with more than 3.3 million sold in Toyota’s Japanese home market and another 2.5 million in the United States. More than 70,000 have been sold in Australia.

Toyota says the designers of the new Prius aiming for more emotional styling, while the engineers sought a more satisfying driving experience, improved performance and better economy.

Improved efficiency from the 72kW/142Nm petrol engine, lighter hybrid components, a lower centre of gravity and a 60 per cent stiffer body are among the claimed improvements for the new-gen Prius.

A more compact battery sits under the back seat, helping to free up more boot space that now totals 502 litres.

So far this year, sales of the three-model Prius family trail the 2014 tally, with the Prius C light hybrid selling 979 units to the end of September, down by almost a quarter.

The Prius V seven-seater has accounted for 482 sales – a 10.7 per cent drop – while the Prius’s 354 sales represent a 5.1 per cent drop.

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