2019 was the year of reinventing itself for Toyota NZ
Despite more challenging sales conditions in 2019, Toyota New Zealand focused on making better data-driven business decisions, improving customer retention and growing its hybrid range with fun-to-drive product.
A year on from a major business change, Toyota continued to hold its market leadership with 20.1% of the vehicle market, a position held for 32 consecutive years.
“2019 was a year of major change for us. Not only did we have our first full year of the Drive Happy project we shook up our product range to make it more exciting,” said Neeraj Lala, Toyota New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer.
With the addition of the next generation RAV4, Toyota now offers seven hybrid cars and SUVs, with more to come in 2020, and is well on track to meet its target of hybrid electric new vehicle sales to be 30% of total Toyota and Lexus sales by the end of 2020.
“The addition of more hybrids to our range has reduced our average carbon emissions across the range for new Toyota vehicles by 9.5%1,” says Mr Lala.
“We believe that as a brand representing a quarter of all cars on New Zealand roads, we have a key role to play as we move towards a low emissions economy as a country. In 2020 we will add more hybrids to our range to continue to decrease our carbon impact.”
“This year we made a deliberate strategic decision to refocus on our channel share, with a larger shift to gaining more private buyer share,” says Mr Lala. “We have seen this increase with RAV4 and Corolla consistently in the top 10 vehicles sold during the year.”
Earlier in 2019, a KMPG survey2 also named Toyota as the brand best positioned for future success in the automotive industry. “Locally we have been looking into new technologies and ways of operating,” says Mr Lala. “We have expanded our Mobility as a Service offering through City Hop and have been looking into hydrogen technologies.”
As in the previous year, SUVs and utility trucks dominated the New Zealand vehicle market in 2019 and Toyota’s completely revamped and perennial favourite, the RAV4 SUV, including the new hybrid version, played a significant role in the brand’s sales figures, with 5,611 sold during the year.
“Increasingly, customers are seeking fuel efficient, low emitting passenger vehicles and the 2019 RAV4 hybrid is ticking many boxes for new vehicle buyers,” says Lala.
“The new RAV4, especially the hybrid version which became available in New Zealand this year for the first time, has performed exceptionally well for us.”
In 2019, Toyota introduced five new models that all focus on being fun-to drive and add excitement into the overall range. The five new models are RAV4, Hiace, GR Supra, Corolla sedan and Corolla wagon.
Of the 31,026 passenger and light commercial vehicles sold by Toyota in 2019, Hilux accounted for 7,126. Hilux sales continued to perform well in 2019 and, with the addition of Toyota Safety Sense and the Workmate variant, there is something for every customer need.
During 2019, Toyota launched an updated Hiace van. The new Hiace featured a semi-bonnet and the Toyota Safety Sense package that earned the vehicle an ANCAP five-star rating. Toyota sold 2,231 Hiaces in 2019 - a 4.5 per cent share of the total light commercial market.
Continuing Toyota’s passion to make even better cars and inject excitement and style back into the brand, 2019 was also marked by the launch of the Toyota GR Supra.
Reflecting on the sales year, Mr Lala said it was no doubt a steep challenge to repeat the record sales of 2018. “While we, as an industry and manufacturer, did not break 2018’s record, 2019 was a strong year for us. We are looking forward to a successful 2020 as the domestic economic fundamentals are positive and we have a number of new vehicles on their way, including the updated Hilux, new Yaris and hybrid C-HR,” he said.