Corolla and Yaris given a ‘value boost’ Toy­ota cuts prices

Korea is mak­ing it­self felt in the bat­tle for car sales, writes Paul Gover

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

AGROW­ING threat from South Korea — as well as the Mazda3 — has forced Toy­ota to cut the prices of the Corolla and Yaris. The for­mer class lead­ers have been over­taken this year in show­rooms and Toy­ota has re­sponded with a ma­jor value push on the com­pact con­tenders, in­clud­ing rare — for brand T — price cuts.

The ba­sic Corolla is down $250 and the Yaris more than $500 in a price push that cuts some mod­els by as much as $910 and — thanks to ex­tra equip­ment in­clud­ing airbags— boosts buyer value by up to $2400.

The move is ex­pected to trig­ger a se­ries of price cuts and value im­prove­ments as ma­jor brands jockey for sales.

Nis­san has promised to de­liver a new baby price fighter, its $12,990 Mi­cra, next month and Holden has a new $12,490 Ba­rina Spark ready to go in a dou­ble-edged at­tack at the bot­tom of the busi­ness.

The small-car ac­tion at Toy­ota co­in­cides with value up­dates that in­clude a $1000 cut on the fam­ily­sized Kluger and more stan­dard equip­ment in the HiLux ute.

But Toy­ota de­nies any panic in the Corolla-Yaris move.

‘‘I’d rather not call it a price cut. It is def­i­nitely a value boost,’’ Dave But­tner, head of sales and mar­ket­ing for Toy­ota Aus­tralia, says.

‘‘Those two prod­ucts are very im­por­tant to us. They are just on 65 per cent of our pas­sen­ger-car pri­vate sales. We need to en­sure we of­fer value against our com­peti­tors.’’

But­tner is un­will­ing to name the South Korean ri­vals but ad­mits the Corolla has been over­taken by the Mazda3, which is driv­ing the Ja­panese brand to new highs in Aus­tralia.

‘‘With both Yaris and Corolla, while many of their prod­ucts are at the peak of their model cy­cle, we are in the mid-to-later phase. We took the op­por­tu­nity of some tech­ni­cal changes to go for a value up­grade,’’ he says.

‘‘At the same time, we’ve re- pos­tioned our prices. With spec up and price down, these ve­hi­cles will con­tinue to rep­re­sent great value.’’

Even so, But­tner ad­mits times are tough.

‘‘There is no deny­ing it. These two prod­ucts were num­ber one but their share has eroded through 2010 and they are now num­ber two. We be­lieve the prod­ucts still have a won­der­ful rep­u­ta­tion and should be lead­ing.’’

The value drive comes with the help of Toy­ota in Ja­pan and means the Yaris now starts at $14,990 and the Corolla at $20,990.

The ba­sic As­cent gets full-length cur­tain and driver’s knee airbags as well as rear power win­dows.

De­spite Toy­ota’s dom­i­na­tion of Aus­tralian show­room ac­tion, But­tner is not ex­pect­ing a sig­nif­i­cant re­sponse from the com­pany’s ri­vals.

‘‘I don’t ex­pect a price war,’’ he says. ‘‘From a pric­ing point of view, this puts us in line with our com­peti­tors.’’

‘‘ It doesn’t put us in front. But it puts us back where we were, with spec­i­fi­ca­tion ad­justed. We are now fun­da­men­tally re-aligned.

‘‘ We’re not cheaper. But on spec­i­fi­ca­tion we’re now bet­ter value. Our value-for-money po­si­tion — at the stage we’re in with our prod­uct cy­cle — had eroded and we needed to ad­dress that.’’

Com­ing down: Toy­ota’s sales strat­egy means the Corolla price now starts at $20,990.

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