Toyota’s grip on Australia’s best-selling brand trophy could slip even further in coming months as the ripples from the recent Japanese earthquakes roll out across the carmaker’s global markets.
The brand confirmed today that while the number of Japanese-made vehicles built during April and May was unaffected by a three-week shutdown in the wake of the April earthquake that shook Kyushu in the nation’s south, their delivery to Australia would suffer delays.
“April and May production vehicles will be unaffected in terms of their quantity, however they will be delayed due to the production stoppage,” Toyota Australia corporate affairs manager Beck Angel said. “Production of all affected vehicles will be delayed by at least one week.”
“We are currently confirming the updated shipping and arrival dates of all vehicles and will advise our dealers shortly.”
It may not sound like much, but the issue for Toyota is that the production stop hits several of its key best-selling models, including the Corolla hatchback (the sedan version is sourced from Thailand), the Prado and LandCruiser off-roaders, the Yaris hatch and sedan, the Toyota RAV4 mid-size SUV and the Prius range, including the Yaris-sized Prius c and the Prius v people-mover. Also affected are the FJ Cruiser off-roader and the Tarago people-mover.
Between them, all these vehicles accounted for 72 percent of Toyota’s 11,689 passenger car sales in April, giving a scale of how much even a week of an interruption to their supply can impact the carmaker. Commercial vehicles added another 4878 sales for the month.
April was troublesome for Toyota, with sales of its usually strong-selling Corolla range already down 14.3 percent over the four months of this year. The Corolla is about to be overtaken in the sales race by the Mazda 3, which at 12,733 units for the year so far is only 51 sales behind its rival for the title as Australia’s best-selling passenger car.
Toyota has continually lost market share since 2012, where it accounted for one in every five new-car sales in Australia. In 2015, it ended the year with a 17.8 percent slice of the market, and for the first four months of this year it had slipped more, down to 6.9 percent.
Toyota’s loss has come at the gain of brands such as Mazda – arguably Australia’s best-selling carmaker when bulk sales to government, business and car rental buyers are factored out of the numbers – and Korean carmaker Hyundai, which in April surprised the market by snaring the number two spot on the list of Australia’s most popular brands for the first time.
The vehicle that helped Hyundai snare the number two spot was the Hyundai i30 hatchback – one of the Corolla’s main rivals in the Australian market.