Toyota expecting strong Fortuner sales despite petrol momentum

Toyota expecting strong Fortuner sales despite petrol momentum

Toyota New Zealand says despite more new petrol-powered and front-wheel-drive SUVs being sold in 2015, it is confident of strong sales for its new diesel-only Fortuner.

It is picking a first-year sales target of 720 for the model, which will enter an increasingly-busy segment already occupied by the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Holden Colorado and Isuzu MUX.

The ladder-chassis SUV uses the engine and drive train from the Hilux pick-up, but has a unique body with seating for seven.

Fortuner is being offered as an alternative to the petrol-only Highlander SUV which is a similarly sized vehicle, but Toyota New Zealand says that buyers will be more likely to use the new models off-road and towing capability.

Towing capacity is 3000kg for the manual Fortuner, and 2800kg for automatics.

Toyota sales and marketing general manager Steve Prangnell admits the new Fortuner may cannibalise some Prado sales, but says he would not be surprised if Toyota sells 700 units of each vehicle in 2016.

“We think the GXL variant will be 50% of sales, and we have offered three variants to see which one the market prefers, and we will evaluate which ones will become the most popular,” says Prangnell.

“It will be a similar market to our Prado customers because it will appeal to farmers and lifestyle block holders, people who go off road and tow,” he says.

Prangnell says there is also a opportunity for Fortuner in the market for people who wanted a diesel version of the USA-sourced Highlander, which is only available with a 4-litre V6 petrol engine.

According to Toyota in the overall SUV market last year, petrol engines gained momentum over diesel, as a preferred buyer choice, with 76% in favour of petrol and 99% of overall sales were automatic.

Toyota says 46% of SUV sold in 2015 were front-wheel-drive rather than all-wheel-drive or 4×4. This is why it has introduced more front-wheel-drive RAV4 models, but says demand for this car exceeds factory supply.

Prices run from $70,990 for the manual GX model which is aimed at the farming and forestry markets, as Toyota says it no longer offers a manual version of the Prado to suit their particular needs.

The mid range GXL automatic retails from $75,990, and the top of the line Limited automatic retails from $78,990.
Driving impressions and a full report on the model range to follow soon.

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