Toyota to keep new product coming strong
By Mark Rechtin
Automotive News / January 04, 2004
Toyota's product offensive
Toyota Corolla XRS
Toyota Highlander hybrid
Lexus RX 400H hybrid
Toyota Solara convertible
Lexus IS 300
Lexus GS 430
2004 Detroit auto show index
DETROIT -- Although the Big 3 are rediscovering that product is king and launching waves of new vehicles, Toyota won't be a stationary target.
By spring 2005, Toyota, Lexus and Scion will launch 11 new or redesigned products into the North American market. It is part of a product plan that will push Toyota's U.S. presence past 2 million units in 2005, if not this year. Toyota sold an estimated 1.85 million units in America in 2003.
While many of the products are redesigns of existing vehicles, Toyota is venturing into a new segment with the Scion tC entry-level performance coupe. It also is taking on the Honda Civic Si's long dominance of the sport compact market with the 180-horsepower Corolla XRS. Hybrid versions of the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX 330 are also part of the count.
The six existing vehicles slated to be redesigned currently are not major contributors to the Toyota and Lexus lineups, but they have been in the past and could be more so in the future. Through November 2003, the six vehicles accounted for about 253,000 units sold. However, in 2001, those same vehicles accounted for 368,000 units.
The Toyota Avalon has routinely threatened the 100,000-unit mark, but through November had sold only 47,000 units. The Lexus IS 300 has been a sales disappointment, but Lexus executives have said the next-generation will have coupe and convertible variants in addition to the sedan, likely to sharply increase volume.
The Scion tC is expected to account for about 30,000 sales. The two SUV hybrids could add as much as 50,000 additional units.
Because of the launches, there will be dips in production output as the new models come on line. That is the main reason Toyota, Lexus and Scion will likely stay below a combined 2 million units this year, said Yuki Funo, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
Said Funo: "Volume-wise, we will grow step-by-step."http://www.autonews.com/news.cms?newsId=7422