Australia October 2012 Sydney Motor Show special – Part 1 Toyota: “Hilux won’t be #1 in 2012″, Mazda: “Too close to call”
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Today I had the privilege to attend the Sydney Motor Show as Founder of BestSellingCarsBlog, hopefully the first of a long list of Motor Shows around the planet I can report for you. The way it works is each manufacturer does a press conference, and afterwards the presenters are available to chat with the press, so you can imagine how excited I have been all day!
Toyota unveiled the new generation Corolla with a high energy choreography on a mix of Australian music hits spanning the 45 years since the launch of the nameplate in 1967. All 11 generations of the model, which sold 1.2 million units in the country over the period, were present in Toyota’s area. Toyota has always maintained close links with this country, assembling the first Corolla outside of Japan here in the late 60s.
As a result Australia is the first market outside of Japan where the new generation Corolla is available to purchase from next Monday 22 October. For those of you reading this in Europe, yes: the Auris is called Corolla in Australia. Toyota is about to celebrate its 10th consecutive year at #1 in the Australian market and will sell over 200,000 cars this year in the country, a feat no other manufacturer has ever achieved here.
My big question for Matthew Callachor, Executive Director, Sales & Marketing at Toyota Australia, was whether the Hilux would be able to finish the year at #1. This would be a first for any Toyota model in the country. He answered: “I don’t see the Hilux get to #1 this year. It has been very strong and we still have good order banks for it but at the moment we are limited by production. The demand is here, but to become #1 we would have to increase production (in Thailand) and this will not happen this year.”
Ok fine, 2012 may not be the year of the Hilux after all. But what about the all-new Corolla which will get its first full year of sales in the country in 2013? As a reminder, the current gen Corolla shot up to #1 in Australia as early as for its first month of sales in June 2007 but has failed to finish the year in pole position so far. Matt Callahor: “We’re trying to get everything we can get (in volume terms) next year, we haven’t got a clear forecast in terms of production yet but given the level of interest we’ve seen even before launching the car in the country, I think we’ll be very well placed next year.” All Corollas sold in Australia will be sourced in Japan.
Next was Mazda, having a record year in Australia in 2012. Mazda was the first importer to sell over 10,000 units in a single month (September) and sold more cars in September alone than over the first 9 months of 1987, 25 years ago… In fact, now that the all-new 6 has been confirmed for sale in December in Australia (one of the first countries in the world to get it), Mazda is sure to sell well over 100,000 cars this year for the first time in the history of the brand in the country.
Along with the all-new 6, Mazda also unveiled the facelifted CX-9 in a World Premiere today. But my main question to Doug Dickson, Mazda Australia Managing Director, was whether the Mazda3 will be Australia’s favourite model for the 2nd year running in 2012, which would make Australia the only country in the world the crown that model. He said: “It’s too early to tell and too close to call.” Very prudent indeed.
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A very interesting aspect of the 3′s success in Australia is the fact that it is almost solely due to private sales, as opposed to models like the Holden Commodore or Toyota Corolla which rely heavily on fleet and rental sales. Doug: “We’re not a big company in world terms, so we must focus on one aspect and we chose many years ago to concentrate on private buyers. That’s always a risk because if you have big fleets you know that certain numbers are coming each month and sometimes private buyers are not in the market, so we took a risk but it’s paid off”.
What about the CX-5 which broke into the Australian Top 10 for the first time last month? My feeling is it’s maxed out but Doug is not so sure: “It’s very hard to tell what the final demand (for the CX-5) is because we still have long waiting lists for the model. Admittedly there will be lots of competition in the segment next year (notably from the all-new Toyota RAV-4) but we think the CX-5 has the potential to remain the #1 SUV in the country over the long term.”
Holden sold the first unit of its hybrid Volt in front of my very eyes, when Holden Chairman & Managing Director Mike Devereux gave the keys to the first Volt sold in the country to US Ambassador in Australia Jeff Bleich as part of Holden’s presentation.
Holden also unveiled the Colorado 7 (aka Trailblazer) which will go on sale here in December and will be the first SUV of this size to be sold by Holden in over a decade, plugging a gaping hole in the brand’s range.
Ford unveiled the all-new Mondeo and the Ecosport – but BSCB readers will know this model already as it has been launched in Brazil and Argentina – and finished its presentation by reassuring the audience that the legendary Falcon nameplate still has at least one more generation ahead of it by announcing a 2014 launch.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Sydney Motor Show update…