New pitch for hybrid Camry
Toyota is rethinking sales tactics after a difficult start, writes Neil McDonald
ASOFTER than expected sales start for Toyota’s Hybrid Camry has forced a rethink of its sales strategy.
From this month the company plans to redouble efforts to put the hybrid on more shopping lists.
It has already introduced a lowinterest sales deal for private buyers and Toyota’s Australia senior executive director of sales and marketing, David Buttner, says more is to come.
‘‘We’re starting a new television and print marketing campaign focusing purely on features and benefits of the vehicle,’’ Buttner says.
‘‘We still think there is an educative process with putting the car on people’s radar. It will be a much more sophisticated campaign.’’
Buttner says many people have misconceptions about hybrid technology.
‘‘People think it’s underpowered, which it isn’t, and we still need to push the technology,’’ he says.
The locally built hybrid Camry was launched in February and has only been in the market full-time since mid-March.
Toyota has sold about 3000 hybrid Camrys so far. Buttner is confident sales will hit 10,000 a year.
About 25 per cent of hybrid-Camry buyers are private and Buttner expects mum-and-dad buyers to make up 40 per cent of sales.
Business is also warming to the hybrid Camry.
‘‘We’re signing some big orders, more than 100 or so cars,’’ Buttner says.
‘‘So far this year the Camry has a market share of 37.4 per cent of the medium four-cylinder market. And the volume is 35 per cent up year-to-date in June, compared with last year.
‘‘Of that 37.4 per cent, about 9.6 per cent are Camry hybrid sales. And when you look at the medium-four market, it has grown 14 per cent. So fundamentally, hybrid Camry accounts for that growth in the market with about 3000-3100.
‘‘And to be up 35 per cent . . . we wouldn’t have been up by that much without hybrid Camry.’’
Buttner says the company is not worried about sales prospects.
‘‘We are comfortable with its performance,’’ he says, adding that dealers have supported the hybrid Camry.
‘‘Given that it’s the first locally manufactured hybrid, it’s been very positive,’’ Buttner says.
‘‘We’re not panicking or worried by its performance in the marketplace.
‘‘We recognise we have to keep promoting the car in the marketplace.
‘‘Remember, we got this product mid-way through its model cycle, which has never happened in my 24 years at Toyota.
‘‘So that is really giving us two solid years before the next-generation car to build the kudos of hybrid and let people understand what hybrids are about, and the technology.’’
New campaign: Toyota will try to bolster sales by stressing the benefits and features of the hybrid Camry.