Toyota Australia says Yaris customers have come to terms with a $9000 price rise for the brand’s cheapest model – and insists the city hatchback is not at risk of being axed even though the Toyota Yaris Cross SUV is forecast to outsell it.
The starting price for the first new Toyota Yaris in almost a decade increased by a staggering $9000 when it went on sale last month and now costs from about $25,500 drive-away. The new Toyota Yaris Cross city SUV starts from $26,990 plus on-road costs (about $29,990 drive-away).
The new Toyota Yaris hatch (pictured below left, next to a Corolla) is not far off Corolla pricing.
It is the first time Toyota has not participated in the sub-$20,000 price range since it began selling cars in Australia in 1959, and it appears the brand is not in a hurry to limbo under that threshold anytime soon.
Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley last week defended the price hike on the new Yaris hatch and insisted it is “priced accordingly”.
“Technology and price go together and our order intake on Yaris shows the market understands that,” said Mr Hanley.
“It also confirms that today's genuine new-car buyer understands that the entry point to a quality vehicle from a quality brand is above $20,000.”
When asked if the Toyota Yaris Cross (pictured below) could eventually kill off the Yaris hatch, Mr Hanley said the model “still has a significant role to play.”
“Whilst the market is declining, we still believe there is a market there for that smaller hatch, specifically,” said Mr Hanley. “Because markets change, markets move, we'll always evaluate. But I can assure you as I sit here today, I'm not aware of any plan to drop Yaris hatch to their market. But like any model, like any market trend, we’ll continue to evaluate that as we go forward.”
Mr Hanley said: “In short, Yaris hatch remains a vital contributor to Toyota's overall sales, albeit at a reduced level and in a segment that is clearly in decline”.
Toyota Australia expects the Yaris Cross – which is slightly bigger than the Yaris hatch, and goes on sale locally this week – will outsell its smaller sibling.
“I expect the Yaris Cross to be the volume model now in the Yaris family and I would expect it to be somewhere around 50 to 55 per cent of the total sales.”
The chief engineer for the Toyota Yaris hatch and Toyota Yaris Cross, Yasunori Suezawa, said the Yaris hatch would outsell the SUV in other key markets. Speaking via a translator, Mr Suezawa said: “I think it is depending on the areas, of course. And I think Australia, maybe the Yaris Cross (will be the bigger seller of the two) due to the environment. But it's all depending on the regional needs. In Japan and (Europe) I forecast that Toyota Yaris hatch will be selling more.”