New pitch for hy­brid Camry

Toy­ota is re­think­ing sales tac­tics af­ter a dif­fi­cult start, writes Neil McDon­ald

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

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.

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