Toyota Europe will delay the unveiling of its new small SUV by “weeks or months” after the cancellation of the Geneva auto show because of the coronavirus.
Toyota was due to unveil the car at the Geneva show, but in contrast to other automakers such as BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler the Japanese automaker decided not to stage a digital reveal this week, a source close to the company said.
The reveal will happen “in the coming weeks or months”, the source added.
The Geneva show organizers canceled the event last Friday after the Swiss government banned gatherings of 1,000 or more people in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Automakers were forced at very short notice to make alternative arrangements for revealing their cars, with many choosing livestreams on Tuesday this week.
Toyota had already reduced its Geneva activities after moving its traditional media briefing event involving senior executives from the eve of the show to January.
The company staged what was in effect a private auto show in Amsterdam where it showed cars such as the second-generation Mirai fuel-cell sedan, RAV4 plug-in hybrid SUV and the full-electric Lexus UX SUV.
The small SUV was going to be the centerpiece of Toyota’s Geneva stand and marked the brand’s entry into a booming segment. Last year 1.9 million small SUVs were sold in Europe, up 20 percent on the year before, according to market researcher JATO Dynamics.
Toyota’s small SUV will not go on sale until March next year, the company has said.
At launch the vehicle will offer a version of the three-cylinder gasoline-electric full-hybrid setup as the new Yaris small car, which goes on sale in June this year.
The SUV will also be available with four-wheel drive, a rarity in the segment, which is led by the Renault Captur.
The Yaris and small SUV will be built at Toyota’s factory in Valenciennes, northern France, and will account for about 30 percent of Toyota’s sales volume in Europe by 2025, the company predicts.
The Valenciennes plant can flexibly react to swings in demand for either car, but the company expects a high number of orders for the SUV. “We expect this to be a very successful car. Some cars you look at the styling and it just looks right. This is such a car,” a Toyota source said at the Amsterdam event.