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Rush of advance orders for Crown Hybrid cars makes dealers worried

4, 14. 2008

   The Toyota car dealers across Japan, including Tokyo Toyota and Tokyo Toyopet for the Tokyo area, have some worries about the sale of the hybrid version of the cars to be marketed by Toyota Motor as the 13th model of the Crown. The sales of the Crown hybrid cars are to begin on May 6, 2008, but the cars are already so popular that their deliveries are booked until after July. If advance orders for the cars continue to come in, the deliveries would have to be delayed further. The dealers are wracking their brains to find ways to deal with new orders that seem to continue to rush in. They are worried if their customers would be patient enough to wait.

Medical practitioners, lawyers, other professionals show unexpectedly deep interest

Orders rushing in for Crown Hybrid cars
Orders rushing in for Crown Hybrid cars

   Orders for the 13th model of the Crown amounted to about 24,000 units over the one-month period following the new model was unveiled and marketed on Feb. 18, 2008. Those for the 12th model that started to be sold in December 2007 totalled more than 22,000 units in one month. The monthly sales targets were 5,000 unites for 12th model and 5,500 units for the 13th model. The orders received for the two models were thus more then four times each.

   When the 13th model was unveiled, the company disclosed to the mass media that the accumulated order receipt target over the one-month period following the marketing of the car was 11,000 units, or double the monthly sales plan. Toyota, however, directed to the leaders to secure order receipts minimum of four times the sales plan, instead of the two times. It had been seen difficult until the middle of March to attain the target, but in reality the targets were exceeded.

   Difficulty that faced the dealers in obtaining the orders four times the sales target was persuading the professionals mainly in Tokyo to replace their cars with new ones. As a result, the purchase contractors from corporations increased to 35% of the total contracts as against the corresponding percentage of 30% for the 12th model.

   The interest in hybrid cars of business firms are continuing to increase because of rising fuel prices and their efforts to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions. The purchasers of the Crown cars spread widely among the business firms, government agencies, organizations, professionals and individuals. Especially, it is understood that professionals, including medical practitioners and lawyers, and owner-taxi drivers sowed their interest in hybrid cars more than earlier expected.

   The accumulated order receipts for the 13th model cars over the one-month period was made up of 50% Royal, 40% Athlete and 10% Hybrid, compared with the orders for the 12th model that was made up of 70% Royal and 30% Athlete. This showed a sharp increase in the orders for the Hybrid. A pessimistic view was expressed, however, that rejuvenation of the car users was not progressing as desired.

Would users be kind enough to wait for slow deliveries

   The users who replaced their old models of Crown to new models in placing the orders over the one-month period following the new models were marketed accounted for 65% in case of the 12th model. This percentage rose to 70% in case of the 13th model. The dealers said that the users of the Crown cars who primarily intended to trade their cars for the Lexus GS or IS had decided to not do so. Lexus LS cars sold well as the users of the Toyota Crown Majesta and Celsior traded for them. While brisk orders for the 13th model of Crown cars could be taken as a good trend, the Toyota dealers that deal with both the Toyota and Lexus cars would face management difficulty if the clients of the Toyota shops eat into each other's brand names.

   The hybrid cars to be marketed in May will be sold mainly to corporations and government agencies, and Toyota predicts that hybrid cars will account for 15% of the 13th model cars to be sold. In Tokyo and other major urban areas, hybrid cars are expected to account for 30% of the 13th model cars to be ordered as many professionals are unlikely to change their cars in these areas.

   Of the monthly sales plan of 5,500 units of the 13th model cars, 800 units are hybrid cars. As the accumulated advance orders over the one-month period after the unveiling reached 2,400 units, the deliveries will have to be waited for two months after the marketing in May until July. Toyota is making effort to increase the production capacity for hybrid cars, but it will by in 2009 that Toyota Motor Kyushu and makers of parts can catch up.

   What should be taken into consideration here is that Toyota is now planning to start the production of new hybrid cars that are fitted with lithium-ion battery and plug-in hybrid cars, while other carmakers are also planning to introduce attractive cars. This makes the dealers wonder how long the individual users, who are looking for new technology, would be willing to wait in case the deliveries of the Crown hybrid cars are delayed to long.

   There were users who were certain to wait when the LS hybrid cars were sold. But the future is unpredictable in case of the Crown hybrid cars. Many professionals and individuals tend to decide whether or not to buy the Crown hybrid cars only after test-driving them, and it seems to take some more while before they decide.

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