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Toyota Rukus axed from Australian line-up

The Toyota Rukus has been axed from the local line-up on the back of dwindling demand for the boxy small car.

toyota-rukus-3

Toyota Australia product public relations manager Steve Coughlan confirmed the decision had been made “in line with customer demand … to cease Australian production of the model next month”.

Coughlan said Toyota expects remaining Rukus stock to be exhausted within the coming months.

The Toyota Rukus was introduced to Australia five years ago as an image changer for the brand, attempting to appeal to a new customer demographic. It achieved moderate sales success early on, exceeding 1000 units in its first two years on the market, and posted record sales in 2011 (1183).

Its popularity waned in 2012 when 823 were sold, and fell heavily in the following years to 418 in 2013 and 232 last year.

To the end of August this year, Toyota has sold just 122, prompting its withdrawal from the brand’s showrooms.

2010 Toyota Rukus Build 1 interior

Despite its relatively short life in Australia and its modest sales performance by Toyota’s standards, Coughlan said the Rukus had made a positive contribution to the brand Down Under.

“Rukus was launched here in 2010 as an alternative to small SUVs and sports wagons,” he said.

“We’ve sold 3867 to the end of August 2015, but Rukus was never about volume. A car that’s designed to be so different is not for everyone – and that’s okay.

“The importance of those sales is that a large number of them were to people who had never previously considered a Toyota. So Rukus succeeded in bringing new buyers to our brand – and our dealers report that many of those people have now progressed to other vehicles in our range, such as RAV4 and Corolla.

“In that sense, Rukus has contributed to the Toyota brand – in a similar way that the FJ Cruiser and the 86 sports car have done – by appealing to a different type of buyer.”

2010 Toyota Rukus

Australia’s Toyota Rukus was essentially a rebadged and mildly restyled version of the second-generation Scion xB made in Japan for the company’s youth-oriented division in the US.

The current Rukus range comprises Build 1, Build 2 and Build 3 variants, priced from $26,990 to $32,490 plus on-road costs. All three are powered by a 123kW/224Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and drive the front wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota is not believed to be developing a successor to the Rukus, instead focusing its efforts on a proper sub-compact SUV, which will previewed at next week’s Frankfurt motor show for a second time by a new version of its C-HR concept.