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Toyota's Plan to Conquer Europe

Posted by: Gail Edmondson on November 30, 2007

Toyota Avensis.jpg

As Volkswagen revs to challenge Toyota in the US, Toyota continues its cruise-control growth in the European market. The Japanese giant sold 800,000 Toyota and Lexus cars in the first 10 months of 2007, up 12%. For the full year Toyota forecasts sales of 1.2 million cars, and growth of five percent in 2008.

Break down the numbers though, and Toyota’s position in western Europe is still modest — it ranks 8th while VW reigns supreme. But watch out in eastern Europe and Russia. That’s where Toyota is picking up momentum. It’s the No. 1 foreign brand in the fast-growing region and ranks second in market share only to Russia’s Lada.

Toyota may have an edge in Russia, since Russian car buyers show the same taste for pickups, SUVs and larger cars that Americans have. And Toyota has been far better than VW at tailoring its models to the US market. In Russia, Toyota plans to sell the larger Camry compact and not its sister compact Avensis, which is designed to appeal to Europeans. VW, by contrast, will sell the same Passat sedan in Russia which it sells in Europe. Both companies are ramping up plants in Russia.

The story for Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus is also a tale of two Europes. In western Europe Lexus’ super-heated growth of 2006 went into reverse, slipping 2.6%. In the first ten months of 2007, Toyota sold 31,481 of its luxury brand models, down from 32,321 in the same period a year ago. Just for comparison, BMW and Mercedes sell 550,000 to 600,000 cars in the same geographical turf.

But watch out, Lexus dealers invested some $25 million in Germany this year, and aim to spend $56 million next year. Stronger growth in eastern Europe has boosted total Lexus sales (east and west Europe) this year. The combined goal for Lexus in 2010 is 70,000 cars.

Even Toyota’s hybrid Prius is starting to gain a bit of traction in the Old World, selling 27,300 cars this year to date in Europe, versus 22,000 in 2006. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the 152,000 sold in the US - and Europeans are still more enthralled with fuel-efficient clean diesel cars. If Toyota wins over European car buyers, it won’t be with a Prius.

Reader Comments


December 3, 2007 8:41 PM

There are those of us with the feeling that many 'Mrkns (Americans) are jingoistic--buying 'Mrkn for that reason alone. Well, the joke is on them, of course. Our so-called 'superiority' is long gone. The evidence is the sinking of GM and Ford, and Chrysler, which will fold one of these days. And where are so many 'US-branded' vehicles made? Try Canada and Mexico. And of late, Korea with China coming on strong. But ignorance is just that, trumped only by vast ignorance, and lethargy, something we specialize in of late.

When it comes to preferences based on 'ethnicity', Europe is topped only by the fanatical militant--with nothing to protect--Islamic nutcase weirdos. There is a very long history of this behavior. In the same 'light' we here in the US are hardly even infants, however wasteful in our ways and uncaring about the consequences of our actions.

There is a vast contrast between the needs of Euro/Asia and US drivers--at least if one believes the press. But the latter is solely self-serving, out of touch with reality now and unable to see the future--just around the corner. The mags are all about selling ad space to attract the mentally/emotionally-challenged rubber-burning nitwits. Our world is shrinking, time we 'Mrkns wake up and realize this and act accordingly. If this means closing each Big Three plant here, canning the UAW once and for all, so much the better. There is a Big Picture out there and we are missing it as viewed thru our greed-clouded glasses...

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