Following on from the success of its limited edition HiLux TRD Sports Pack, Toyota Australia looks set to introduce a new flagship dual-cab ute to the best-selling HiLux range.
Toyota’s sales and marketing chief, Tony Cramb, revealed to TMR that the TRD Sports Pack recently offered as a dress-up kit for the HiLux SR5 had revealed the potential for Toyota to play in the $60,000+ premium 4x4 ute market.
Toyota already trails Ford and Volkswagen, which offer the Ranger Wildtrack and Amarok Ultimate V6 respectively as the ultimate expression of their ute ranges, with Holden also seeing the potential to grow that market adding a more stylised Z71 model to the Colorado ute range.
The take-up rate of the TRD Sports Pack, which added features including an under-bumper bash plate, new grille, mudflaps, gear knob and floor mats all emblazoned with the Toyota Racing Development logo, has led Toyota to consider adding a new full-time range-topping model to sit above the current HiLux.
“That part of the market is on fire,” Cramb said. “At this stage we don’t have something to offer into that segment of the market so the special edition has been really well received.”
While the TRD treatment has been successful on this occasion, a future kitted-up HiLux may not stick to the Toyota Racing theme, but an aesthetics package and extra equipment targeted at Ranger Wildtrack are still on the cards.
“What it opens the door to is possibly variants into that higher-grade section,” Cramb added. “Whether TRD is represented or not, time will tell, but definitely we’re very aware there is a market above the SR5 that we’re not playing in that we need to play in. It’s essentially what it is, a tip-toe to see if it’s applicable to HiLux and that’s been overwhelmingly confirmed, so the direction for us to go in is clear.”
Cramb admitted that the Ranger’s sale success in the 4x4 ute market has put pressure on Toyota with Ford’s 4x4 models outselling Toyota’s HiLux 4x4 range so far in 2017, though with combined 4x2 figures Toyota still maintains its market leadership.
“I think Ranger is an excellent product offering into that market, particularly in 4x4,” Cramb said. “From an overall point-of-view we’re not necessarily concerned, but from a 4x4 point-of-view they’re clearly doing very well.”
“Part of that success is from the variants we don’t offer, the higher grades like the Wildtrak… those sorts of things are where we’re getting beaten.”
Cramb also poured water on any change of a wider TRD return, explaining that the branding would be retained as a parts and accessories range, primarily focussed on HiLux.
“We’re not necessarily thinking TRD at this time, broadly,” he said. “We’re not looking to go back to the TRD experiment many years ago. There’s nothing along those lines but TRD has proven to be very successful from a merchandising point-of-view so we’d be silly to ignore it.”
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