High hopes for hybrid
Private buyers help push up sales, writes Neil McDonald
MUMS and dads are slowly gravitating towards Toyota’s Hybrid Camry. The locally built hybrid has only been on sale since February, but Toyota Australia senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner is pleased with its early sales figures.
Buttner says 32 per cent of buyers are private customers who specifically want a Camry hybrid over a Prius.
‘‘ There isn’t a lot of crossshopping going on,’’ Buttner says.
Toyota eventually expects private buyers to make up 40 per cent of Camry hybrid owners, with the rest going to fleets. Many buyers are migrating from large sixcylinder cars, Buttner says.
‘‘We’ve got to get ourselves, over time, to a monthly rate that gives us 10,000 sales a year,’’ he says.
Since its launch, 1686 have been sold, according to April’s VFACTS sales figures.
Momentum is building, but Buttner says because of its different technology it is not an easy sell among prospective buyers.
‘‘Like any new vehicle launch, to get to your running rate will take time,’’ he says. ‘‘As we found with the Lexus hybrid, with this technology, people’s purchase decisions take a lot longer,’’ he says.
The medium-four segment has grown almost 13 per cent this year and Camry Hybrid has a share of 8.6 per cent, he says.
Toyota’s star cars continue to be the HiLux, Corolla and Yaris. Overall sales are tracking to another 200,000-plus year for Toyota, but Buttner is not complacent.
‘‘As the year progresses, the pace of growth should accelerate and we are expecting the industry to return to sales in excess of one million in 2011,’’ he says.
Reduced tariffs and the smallbusiness tax break are having a follow-through effect, he says.
In demand: Toyota has sold more than 1680 Hybrid Camrys.