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Toyota New Zealand ends tough year on a high note

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While 2020 may have recorded the toughest trading conditions ever for the automobile industry, caused by COVID-19 lockdowns and a halted rental car sector, Toyota New Zealand ended the year with strong sales driven by popular new models added to the extensive range.

New vehicle sales from market leader Toyota were down 31% for the full year, mostly due to the impacts of COVID-19 on both rental fleet sales due to the immediate halt of international tourism through the closure of borders, and the local economy.

Toyota New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Neeraj Lala says the rise in new vehicle sales towards the end of the year could be attributed to several factors, including the high private demand for newly introduced models across the Toyota range.

“Excluding our rental volume, our market share has improved by 2.4%, which is a great result despite the challenges of 2020,” says Mr Lala.

Toyota’s private market share was up 2.6% compared to 2019 at the end of November, as Toyota continues to focus on consumer needs in their product range.

“Toyota has made a real effort over the past few years to inject fun back into the range which is resonating with our customers,” says Mr Lala. “We currently have over 5,700 customer orders waiting to be filled as we move into 2021.”

Sales of new vehicles grew well in the latter months of 2020 with Toyota continuing to lead the market with an 18.1% share of all new passenger and commercial registrations in 2020.

“There is also a strong demand for low carbon-emitting vehicles with over 36% of our sales now being hybrids,” he says.

A hybrid powertrain is now available in the Yaris Hatch and Cross, Corolla Hatch and Sedan, Camry, RAV4, C-HR and Prius. There is also the Plug-In Hybrid, the Prius Prime.

In 2021, a hybrid Highlander will be offered in New Zealand for the first time.

Hybrid sales are now outselling petrol-only cars and SUVs right across the Toyota range. In the year to the end of December, hybrids accounted for 59% of Toyota passenger cars sold. SUV hybrid sales were the same ratio, accounting for 59% of Toyota SUV sales.

“If there is a challenge with hybrid sales it is securing enough supply for New Zealand, as there is a global demand for hybrid cars and SUVs, despite the economic impact of COVID-19,” Mr Lala says.

New car buyers are responding positively to hybrids. As a comparison, sales of hybrid variants were just 7% of all new Toyota passenger car sales in 2017.

With Toyota hybrid SUVs, the growth trajectory is even more pronounced with zero sales in 2017, and over 5000 in 2020. The new RAV4 continues to sell well, with 5,346 (3,830 of which are hybrids) units delivered during the year and 574 pre-sold units on their way from Japan.

Toyota New Zealand has also, as of the 1st January 2021, appointed Steve Prangnell to General Manager of New Vehicle sales.

*All data based on preliminary results