Toyota Europe is banking on two key new model launches in the next year, starting with the Yaris Cross small SUV this year followed by a replacement for the Aygo minicar, to help it gain sales and market share, the automaker's regional CEO Matthew Harrison said.
The Yaris Cross, a derivative of the Yaris small car, is about to start production at Toyota's plant in Valenciennes, France, alongside the Yaris, which was revamped in 2020.
It will be Toyota's first entrant in the small SUV segment, Europe's best-performing in 2020, and now the second-largest overall, with 1.73 million sales, just edging out compact cars, with 1.72 million sales, according to figures from JATO Dynamics market researchers.
The segment's sales leaders in 2020 were the Renault Captur (177,556), Volkswagen T-Roc (158,776), Peugeot 2008 (156,150) and Dacia Duster (138,587) according to JATO. Through the first half of this year, the 2008 leads with 107,339 sales, followed by the T-Roc (105,584), the Captur (93,508) and the Duster (75,267).
Harrison said Toyota was expecting full-year Yaris Cross sales to be about 150,000 in 2022, which would place it comfortably in the Top 5 in sales in the segment. In 2020 Toyota said it was aiming for an 8 percent segment share.
"The vast majority of our growth is coming from the Yaris Cross introduction," he said in an interview with Automotive News Europe. Toyota has revised its sales targets upward, to 1.2 million in its Europe region this year from 1.1 million, and 1.5 million in 2025, from 1.4 million announced in 2020.
- Click here to read the full interview with Toyota Europe CEO Matthew Harrison
The Yaris Cross will differentiate itself from competitors by offering a four-wheel drive option with an electric rear axle (a few others, including the Duster also offer 4wd, but most are front-wheel drive only) and Toyota's hybrid system, which has been on the market longer than other hybrids, such as the Captur, which is debuting in full-hybrid form this year.
The other new model will be the replacement for the Aygo, one of the few remaining minicars sold in Europe. The Aygo's sibling models, the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, were also assembled in a joint venture at Toyota's factory in Kolin, Czech Republic, but Citroen and Peugeot have pulled out of the partnership and do not plan to replace those models.
That has meant that the Aygo is gaining market share, even as the current generation nears the end of its life cycle, Harrison said. It ranked third overall in the segment in 2020, with 83,277 sales, behind the Fiat Panda (144,348) and Fiat 500 (137,267), according to JATO.
Aygo first-half sales this year are holding steady at 47,346, with the 500 (including the slightly larger New 500 full-electric car) at 95,559 and the Panda at 79,660.