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Toyota sales in Australia during 2009 might have been down on the previous year, but they still managed to sell over 200,000 vehicles – 200,991 to be precise.

It’s an outstanding result, when you consider that Holden, the number two player in Australia, sold just 119, 568 cars although, to be fair, the Commodore was our number one selling car for 2009, with 44,387 units moved off the showroom floor.

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‘More Australians buy Toyota’ is what Toyota management can proudly yell, and that’s no marketing spin. In fact, this was the sixth straight year that the brand has sold more than 200,000 vehicles in Australia, and the only car company to have ever reached that number in a twelve month period.

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The ever-popular Corolla, and the unstoppable Toyota HiLux were crowned Australia’s number two and three best selling vehicles respectively in 2009.

And in the case of the HiLux, that is a truly remarkable feat, when you consider that an essentially commercial vehicle outsold the hugely successful Mazda 3 and Ford Falcon passenger cars.

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Toyota Sales and Marketing chief David Buttner, was cautiously optimistic about potential sales though 2010, despite his dealer’s order books looking very strong. He is predicting sales will be of a similar number to this year, which topped out at a better than expected 937,328, buoyed by the Federal Government’s investment-allowance bonuses.

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I’m betting that with the imminent launch of the locally built Camry Hybrid just weeks away, and the launch of a completely new Toyota model mid-year, this will be a very good year for Toyota in Australia.

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The general consensus is that we might see the magic million number of cars sold this year in Australia, given that the effects of the worldwide downturn are largely behind us.

Although pricing for the Camry Hybrid has yet to be announced, this is bound to be a sales success story for Toyota, if the 1.6 million Prius’s sold globally thus far, is anything to go by.

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On show at this morning’s press conference was a pearlescent white example, adorned with some rather subtle Hybrid badges on the rear and both front guards.

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Lift up the bonnet though, and you will immediately notice the Hybrid Synergy Drive plaque on the engine cover, as well as the electric motor and its bright orange cables.

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If your main beat includes schools, shopping malls or the daily peak hour grind, then less stops at the petrol station are more than certain. Expect city fuel consumption to be as low as 7.1-litres/100km and slightly less for highway driving (6.9-litres/100km) due to both the 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine and the electric motor working in concert. And that’s despite the battery pack and electric motor adding approximately 140 kilograms over its petrol powered sibling.

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Its all very high-tech inside, especially as you never actually need to remove the key fob from your pocket to start the car, which is the same as the Prius and luxury Lexus Hybrid cars, such as the GS450h and RX450h SUV.

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Just hop in, put your foot on the brake, press the start button, drive away and you won’t hear a thing up to 30km/h, if you’re gentle with the throttle.

Its an unusual experience, but one that I don’t seem to tire of when you realise, via the large centre mounted LCD screen, that the engine has not yet ticked over.

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But as soon as you need to accelerate, just hit the right pedal and you will move, very swiftly indeed, as the electric motor delivers maximum torque instantly.

Australia will be only the fourth market in the world to get the Camry Hybrid with sales already going well in the United States, Thailand and Japan.

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Expect a first steer of the Camry Hybrid in February, and we’ll continue to research what the new Toyota model launch might be, later this year in Australia.




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