The Van­guard posed a threat to Lexus mar­ket

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - DN2 - baraza jm

Hi Baraza,

I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the work you are do­ing and the ef­fort you put in in­form­ing and ed­u­cat­ing us about cars. I read your ar­ti­cles when­ever I can and ad­mire your knowl­edge of cars; Is it pos­si­ble for you to have a Youtube chan­nel where you can up­load videos of the cars you re­view, for ex­am­ple the Volk­swa­gen Polo Vivo Maxx, in the near fu­ture? It would be great to get a re­view of the cars and see their ca­pa­bil­i­ties, han­dling, as well as any short­com­ings.

Now to my main ques­tion: I ad­mire the Toy­ota Van­guard for its stylish de­sign as well as per­for­mance and off-road ca­pa­bil­i­ties. I have noted there has been an in­crease in Van­guards and the sales are higher com­pared to its com­peti­tors in the mid-size SUV range such as Out­landers, X-trails and Foresters. What con­cerns me, though, is that I have lit­tle in­for­ma­tion. I need to un­der­stand why Toy­ota de­cided to stop pro­duc­ing the Van­guard in 2012 and in­stead fo­cused on the RAV4 plat­form. Isn’t this strange, con­sid­er­ing the Van­guard’s fea­tures, such as most of them be­ing 7-seaters, af­ford­able and be­ing roomier than the RAV4? Is it that the car had a prob­lem or what rea­son did they have for stop­ping its pro­duc­tion? And does that mean that get­ting spares for the Van­guard will be a chal­lenge in fu­ture?

Brian

Hello Brian,

I do have a Youtube chan­nel called Mo­tor­ing Press Agency, just like the web­site.

The Van­guard had to die for sev­eral rea­sons. First, Ja­pan has a unique au­to­mo­tive tax obli­ga­tion regime that cen­tres on ex­ter­nal di­men­sions and en­gine ca­pac­ity; that is why the Kei car is so pop­u­lar in that ar­chi­pel­ago. It might be more out of ne­ces­sity (avail­abil­ity of space to ma­noeu­vre around, let alone park, is at a perigee) and fis­cal sense (those taxes can get puni­tive the higher up you go in ve­hi­cle size) than the forced cute­ness of the lit­tle mo­bil­ity pods. The Van­guard is the an­tithe­sis of the es­tab­lish­ment’s reg­u­la­tions: it is the blue-pill Pfizer ver­sion of an al­ready fairly size­able ve­hi­cle: the Toy­ota RAV4. The ve­hi­cle would prove costly to own in its own home mar­ket, and it, there­fore, had to die.

(Ad­den­dum I: me­thinks the or­di­nary RAV4 will meet its end soon as well, to ab­di­cate its po­si­tion in favour of the new­fan­gled and frankly hate­ful new kid on the block called the C-HR. I hope I’m wrong on this).

Speak­ing of ab­di­cat­ing po­si­tions, the sec­ond rea­son the Van­guard croaked was to al­low its sex­ier cousin from Lexus to rule the roost undis­turbed. This is some­thing I dis­cussed when I re­viewed the all-new Land Rover Dis­cov­ery some weeks ago. Model po­si­tion­ing to pre­vent a new ve­hi­cle from poach­ing sales from an ex­ist­ing one is some­thing only Toy­ota seems to have mas­tered since at one point they had the Verossa, the Mark II and the Mark X on sale at the same time. Let not the skin fool you, this is the same car. How­ever, with the new RAV4 model out, built on what they call the “New MC un­der­pin­nings”, Lexus took a short­cut and based their new RX cross­over on that plat­form as well, the same plat­form that you’ll find sup­port­ing ve­hi­cles like the Al­phard and the Prius.

The quandary fac­ing the cor­po­rate gi­ant was the Verossa-mark Ii-mark X one all over again, the dif­fer­ence be­ing that, un­like then, nowa­days the gen­eral pub­lic is fed dis­tilled in­tel­li­gence by an ov­er­en­thu­si­as­tic mo­tor­ing press agency and the pro­lif- er­a­tion of In­ter­net ac­cess in gen­eral and so­cial me­dia in par­tic­u­lar means crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion can be, and is, dis­sem­i­nated in real time. De­ci­sions can be made and un­made right there on the show­room floor by a few quick taps on a smart­phone screen. It would not make sense to have the RAV4, the Van­guard and the Har­rier XU60 on sale con­cur­rently as they would can­ni­bal­ize sales from each other, de­spite them all fall­ing un­der the same um­brella. One had to go, but which one?

The RAV4 started it all back in 1994, the real OG. You don’t just pull the rug out from un­der grandpa’s feet, do you? The Har­rier is the Lexus, and Lexus needs rep­re­sen­ta­tion in that sec­tor, or else Ger­man fare like the Mercedes GLE and BMW’S X cars fes­ter un­fet­tered all over the mo­tor­ing land­scape and if you re­call my ear­lier dis­cus­sion about Lexus, the rea­son it swung into ex­is­tence was to keep the Ger­mans in check and in­form them that lux­ury can be had for rea­son­able money. So with the RAV4’S and Har­rier’s job se­cu­ri­ties guar­an­teed, the Van­guard sud­denly found it­self draw­ing the short straw and get­ting tossed out in the cold. The role of the roomy cross­over will con­tinue to be as­sumed by the High­lander, or what Kenyans know as the Kluger. Say­onara, Van­guard, you have been de­clared re­dun­dant and no one will re­ally miss you. You were noth­ing but a pri­apic RAV4. Bring on the C-HR...

(Ad­den­dum II: Why are you wor­ried about Toy­ota spares? Re­ally, why? How long do you plan on keep­ing a Van­guard for you to worry about spares avail­abil­ity when un­til now spares for ve­hi­cles from 30 years ago are still read­ily avail­able? Take a breath and con­tem­plate on the ephemeral life­span of the length­ened RAV4 de­riv­a­tive, and if Toy­ota shot it­self in the foot by killing the wrong car).

PHOTO | COURTESY

The Rav4-like Van­guard: Pro­duc­tion was stopped to pre­vent it from poach­ing sales from ex­ist­ing brands.

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