Fleet News

Nine debuts herald massive sales drive

A MASSIVE sales drive by Toyota to break through the 100,000 annual sales barriers in the UK began with nine debuts at Frankfurt International Motor Show in its biggest yet range renewal ready for the next millennium. The push to boost sales from an expected 97,000 this year is part of a pan-European initiative to increase sales from 600,000 to 800,000 on the Continent.

In the next year, fleet buyers in the UK will be offered the new 1.3-litre Yaris, its MPV variant, Verso, an all new Celica and MR2, the new Prius hybrid, a facelifted Landcruiser and an updated Hiace van. There is also an all-new common rail diesel engine for Avensis and a 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol unit. Toyota is concentrating its efforts on Europe after successfully establishing itself as a top brand in both Japan, where it has 40% market share, and America, where it has 8.7%. By spring 2001 a total of 14 new models are expected to have been introduced in Europe. In Europe it has 3% in both Europe and the UK, but expects European market share to quickly rise to 5%.

As part of a move to widen brand awareness, Toyota will also see its shares listed on the stock market in London and New York this month. Shareholders in Japan will provide 45 million shares, worth about £1 billion, to increase the international element of its shareholder base and to allow the company to be benchmarked against other worldwide competitors.

Among the debuts at Frankfurt were the 1.3-litre 87bhp Yaris, and an MPV variant, the Verso, was also given its first public showing before going on sale in January 2000, powered by the same 1.3-litre engine as the Yaris. An all new Celica will go on sale in the UK at the end of October powered by a new 138bhp 1.8-litre VVT-i engine. Prices are likely to be about £20,000. An equally stunning MR2 will go on sale in March next year, with the same 1.8-litre engine and a detatchable hard-top as an option.

The Hiace van will gain swing out rear doors for easier loading, a luxury VIP, eight seat version, improved seats and an extra 200kg payload in the long-wheelbase version when it goes on sale at the end of this year. A new front grille and headlamps will grace the Landcruiser Colorado when it goes on sale this year. A 2.0 VVT-i common-rail diesel will be available on Avensis from the start of next year, offering 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds and average fuel consumption of 49mpg.

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