Toyota Australia says its increasingly successful rivals in the ute market — a market it still dominates with the HiLux — deserve respect, but is confident the new-generation version premiering overseas on May 21 has what it takes to beat them back.
The main issue, the company says, is not the quality of the vehicle but rather the supply out of Thailand. More specifically, the potential lack thereof when the new version (leaked image shown above) arrives locally late in 2015, about six months after its world premiere.
“To be totally honest, the biggest issue we’re going to face with the new HiLux is supply,” Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb told us this week.
“We’re very confident in the vehicle, it’s going to be amazing when we finally do launch it, it’s completely capable of doing what we need, but [we’re] not sure if we’re going to get the number that we need. We’ll have to think carefully about what we’ll do at launch and how we’ll go about it.”
Long Australia’s top-selling ute — and at times its top-selling vehicle of any sort — the 10-year-old current HiLux has experienced a slow decline in its market share in recent times against rivals such as the Ford Ranger and the sharply priced Mitsubishi Triton.
So far in 2015 the HiLux 4×4 has attained 19.4 per cent segment share, ahead of the Ranger (16.1 per cent) and Triton (15.1 per cent). In 2014 it had 20.5 per cent, in 2012 it managed 23.5 per cent, and in 2008 the HiLux’s 4×4 share was about 31.0 per cent.
“I think this market that HiLux is in is very different [now],” Cramb said.
“If you go back and have a look at those [former] times — I think I was running sales at that time — it was happy days, the competition turned up, but they were nowhere near as good as what they are now.
“Competition has improved dramatically and they deserve our respect absolutely.
“I think also the nature of that market is changing. So I think that back in the day when we dominated that market, as you said, it was potentially a work truck or for the tradie.
“Increasingly that product is merging with SUV almost and becoming a family-type truck… and the customer base and expectation of that market is changing.
“Market share is a result of many many many things but I think it’s fundamentally changing, that whole segment, and I think we’ll be able to sell everything we can get.”
See more early, leaked details of the new Toyota HiLux here.
Update: This story briefly stated the car would arrive here in late 2016, which was an error. This has been amended.