Mike Stevens | May 5, 2009

It seems Toyota Australia and Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne are of a similar mind when it comes to the state of the automotive industry. Toyota Australia’s Senior Executive Director for Sales and Marketing, David Buttner, has echoed Marchionne's view of the world market, declaring that the new-car market in Australia is set to improve through 2009 after hitting bottom in April.

"We expect a pick-up in sales for May and June, followed by a market that will be stronger in the second half of the year than in the first six months," he said.

Buttner pointed to the fact that despite April having fewer selling days than the same month last year (due to the Easter break, school holidays and Anzac Day falling on a Saturday), the company’s sales for the month put the 'big T' 5200 sales ahead of its nearest rival, Holden.

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April saw the Toyota HiLux come through as the second best-selling vehicle in Australia for the month.

The manufacturer also lists two of the six most popular passenger cars, Corolla and Yaris, in its model range, along with three of the top four SUVs: Kluger, RAV4 and Prado.

"The year-on-year comparison for Toyota is misleading because our sales figures in the same period last year were artificially high," Mr Buttner said.

"Not only were we surfing the crest of all-time record sales, we also had a huge carry-over of orders each month that was on top of the underlying demand.

"Even as late as September, we were still delivering vehicles ordered in the first half of the year when the economy was booming.

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"Since October-November, we have successfully managed our stock position to reflect lower demand with the result that confidence among our dealers is strong.

"As a result, we have not engaged in distress selling and we have refused to take actions that would savage the resale values of our customers' vehicles.

"In fact, in the long-term interests of Toyota's brand and our customers, we did not pursue fleet deals we believe were struck at unsustainable prices.

"We are now in a strong position to be aggressive but responsible with our merchandising, starting with the Toyota Means Business promotion in May-June," he said.

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