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Toyota targets 22 per cent growth in 2012

Time for growth: Toyota Australia - which has just launched the new Aurion (left) - is shooting for 230,000 sales this year.

Comeback to 230K sales is Toyota Australia’s target as locally-built Aurion lands

Toyota logo17 Apr 2012

TOYOTA is shooting for a sales increase of more than 22 per cent this year to achieve 230,000 units in Australia – including its Lexus luxury arm – which would be its best year since 2008, when it sold a combined 245,563 units.

The ambitious target will require a turnaround from this year’s 1.1 per cent first-quarter slip in sales of Toyota branded vehicles and an 8.1 per cent lag for Lexus.

Toyota announced the target at today’s launch of its redesigned, Australian-built Aurion large car in the same week it stood down 350 workers from its Altona manufacturing facility in Melbourne’s west, due to a 36 per cent slump in production over the past four years.

With Lexus looking to grow up to 15 per cent over last year, equating to around 7300 sales, Toyota’s own-brand target would see it comfortably exceed its 2010 result of 214,718 units, reversing last year’s natural disaster-related 15.4 per cent sales slump.

Toyota says the planned sales boost is backed by a substantial factory and dealership development program, which includes the $300 million four-cylinder engine plant at Altona and $119 million of works to renew and expand the dealer network.

 center imageLeft: Toyota executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor. Below: Toyota Camry Hybrid and Prius C.

In addition to the recovery in vehicle supply after last year’s Thai floods, Toyota should be helped by an influx of fresh metal that includes the new locally built Camry (up 22.8 per cent in Q1), four new hybrids and a halo model in the shape of its 86 sports coupe.

With today’s arrival of the new-generation six-cylinder Aurion sedan as a renewed pitch against the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, Toyota acknowledges that Australian large-car sales have fallen from 136,280 in 2006, when the Aurion nameplate was introduced, to just 78,077 last year.

Nevertheless, Toyota executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor said large-car demand is still “substantial and vital to the success of the total Australian market”.

He expects Toyota’s share of the segment to increase from the 12.2 per cent achieved by Aurion last year, when the segment dropped 21.7 per cent.

In the first quarter this year, sales dropped a further 22.5 per cent, with Aurion sales down 26.8 per cent, Falcon down 23.6 per cent and Commodore down 21.6 per cent.

Despite these falls – and large cars having dropped from the second-largest segment in Australia to sixth – Mr Callachor remains optimistic.

“Even if the large-car market was to diminish further, it is a long way from becoming a niche segment and it deserves to be supported with models purpose-built for changing needs,” he said.

Toyota, a vocal opponent of the federal government’s luxury car tax, believes the large-car segment is becoming a “haven” for fleet and private buyers looking to obtain a high-specification, luxurious vehicle while avoiding the levy.

He said Toyota’s commitment to local manufacturing is “resolute” and more than a third of the 135,000 Aurions produced so far were for overseas markets, with Toyota expecting half of Altona’s total production this year to be exported.

“There has seldom been a greater period of change and adjustment in our operational procedures, and all are necessary to safeguard the future,” said Mr Callachor.

Toyota describes the ramp-up to the launch of its new generation of Australian-built cars as the largest since its Altona facility was commissioned in 1995.

Part of the preparations includes the aforementioned engine plant and the company has stated its “firm intention” to keep building cars in Australia beyond 2016, when the current Camry, launched in December last year, will require renewal.

Toyota remains by far Australia’s biggest-selling brand, accounting for 18.2 per cent of the market with 47,375 sales in the first quarter.

This time last year it had a 19.3 per cent market share with 47,887 sales.

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