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Toyota vehicle supply edging back to normal

Hi waters: One of the setbacks facing Toyota Australia in the first quarter of this year has been reduced supply of HiLuxe utes caused by the flooding in Thailand.

Flood-hit Toyota set to resume normal business after slow first quarter sales

16 Mar 2012

TOYOTA Australia is still playing catch-up from its 2011 stock shortages caused by successive disasters and setbacks, most recently the Thai floods that slashed HiLux production volumes and disrupted parts production for models made elsewhere.

Those shortages and the later-than-anticipated production start-up for the new locally made Camry and Aurion ranges at the company’s Altona plant in Victoria have put Toyota behind where it had hoped to be in sales for the first quarter of this year.

However, Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor told GoAuto at this week’s Camry Hybrid launch that supply was returning to normal and that outstanding orders for vehicles such as the HiLux were being filled.

Mr Callachor said the recovery would help to increase Toyota sales over the disaster-impacted 2011, when volumes fell 15.4 per cent, to 181,624 vehicles.

But he was reluctant to predict Toyota’s 2012 tally, as production was still getting back to normal.

 center imageLeft: Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor. Below: Camry hybrid.

“I don’t have a firm figure at this moment for what that will be because they are working overtime to try to catch it up as the year progresses,” he said.

“We will definitely have a better year in 2012 than 2011.”

To the end of February, Toyota sales were down 1.7 per cent year to date in a market up 5.2 per cent.

Mr Callachor said the sedate start to the year would make it unlikely that Toyota could recover the full 20,000 units or so of lost sales from last year and get all the way back to 2010 levels, when Toyota sold 214,718 vehicles.

“We won’t make the full amount because the Thailand floods occurred at the end of last year, and we source HiLux from Thailand,” he said.

“That’s flowed over into the first quarter of this year. And on top of that, some of the parts for some CBU (completely built up) vehicles (from Japan) are actually sourced out of Thailand as well, so that has had an impact on the CBU vehicles.

“All of that is returning to normal, by the end of the first quarter, but we have lost sales in the first quarter.”

Mr Callachor said Camry should be able to improve on its 19,169 sales of last year, thanks to the all-new model launched this year.

But he said the later than anticipated launch that pushed back into 2012 meant 2012 sales would not be as high as they might have been.

The Camry Hybrid version only goes on sale at the end of the March, while the six-cylinder Aurion will be launched in April.

Mr Callachor said he hoped Camry Hybrid would ultimately achieve 10,000 sales a year – the original sales target when the first-generation of the locally made petrol-electric model was launched in 2010.

“I wouldn’t say we are going to be at a 10,000 running rate for a while to come,” he said, saying that steady petrol prices worked against alternative powertrains such as hybrids.

“But part of it is a journey as we build towards 10,000, and several factors are working in our favour.

“The car (the latest model) has actually had the hybrid technology installed at the commencement of the life-cycle whereas the previous one it was more in the mid point of its life-cycle.

“The second thing is the expansion of hybrid awareness into the private market place, due to the Prius range expansion with the Prius C and Prius V as the year progresses will give it a wider exposure.

“Also, competitors coming into the market with hybrids will give hybrids a higher level of awareness. So it is on this journey to build it to 10,000 eventually.”

Mr Callachor predicted the overall Australian market should edge up to about 1,050,000 vehicles this year, about four per cent higher than 2011 and slightly more than 2010’s tally of 1,035,574 vehicles.

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