‘Crazy’ demand for new HiLux is 86-like

Toyota is comparing “crazy” buyer response to its new HiLux utility with the frenzied reception the 86 sports car received when it first went on sale in Australia.

And while it’s shying away from predicting sports car-like waiting lists for its new pick-up, it’s acknowledging that after just two weeks on sale demand for some models already stretches into 2016.

Toyota has previously forecast up to 40,000 sales in 2016 for the 31-model range, but now thinks it could go even higher with 5000 sales expected in the first month on sale.

That equates to 60,000 sales per annum and if those sort of numbers are maintained the Thai-built ute would easily become Australia’s top-selling new vehicle in 2016, most likely usurping Toyota’s own perennial sales leader, the Corolla small car.

“Its crazy,” said Toyota Australia sales and marketing chief Tony Cramb. “It’s 86-like is how I would describe it.

“When 86 hit the market it was like this and we were ‘oh my goodness what have we done here’ and ‘we better quickly get on to Japan’. It’s like that definitely.”

“We said to you (media) 40,000 was our sales goal for (HiLux) next year and some of you questioned maybe it would be the best-selling car in the market. We weren’t thinking that way at all, but maybe it is. Maybe it is bigger than we had anticipated.”

The higher-specification and more profitable models such as the SR5 dual-cab turbo-diesel are most in demand, while five months’ worth of orders for bullbars, optional alloy wheels and tub liners have already been placed, Cramb said.

“We are hearing stories of people going into camp sites and getting mobbed. It’s fantastic, it’s exactly what you wish for when you launch a car. It’s all good.”

The eighth-generation HiLux was launched to the media in late September. You can read our product wrap here our first drive here and the comprehensive comparison test against its many rivals here.

The spectacular response to the new HiLux continues its record busting tradition. It has been Australia’s biggest selling commercial vehicle for 17 years straight, the best-selling 4×4 for a decade, the top-selling nameplate in the Northern Territory for the last 14 years, the top-selling nameplate in Queensland and WA for the last seven years.

The seventh generation has amassed 410,000 sales in Australia since its 2005 launch. In 2018, an example of the new eighth-generation HiLux is forecast to record the nameplate’s one millionth sale here.

Cramb said the biggest challenge for Toyota was to establish whether the massive response to the new HiLux was the result of pent-up demand or represented a new normal. Right now, demand for some models is running 170 per cent above forecasts.

“Maybe by the end of the year it starts to settle down and is back to normal,” he pondered. “The worst thing you can do is over-react and over-supply, so that is a judgement we have to make.

“Our logic is always to have one less than demand, but the trick is to work out the demand.

“The fundamental philosophy is to be just short, but 86 was well short. I wouldn’t say HiLux is well short yet, but it has started much better than we expected. “Who knows where it goes.”

Cramb toured dealerships across Australia with the regional manager from head office in Japan last weekend and said they witnessed the frenzied reaction to the vehicle firsthand.

He said that was a help in gaining a commitment to increased production to sate demand, although no additional stock would arrive before 2016.

Cramb was speaking at the media launch of the HiLux-based Fortuner SUV which goes on sale next week.

Australia has been allocated 6000 examples of the Fortuner to last through 2016, but Cramb expects demand for that vehicle to also exceed supply.