Toyota NZ

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Toyota launches new plug-in Prius

“This is the $150 a year car,” says Neeraj Lala, Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Product and New Vehicle Sales.

“That’s the yearly running costs you’ll pay in New Zealand for the Prius Prime according to Energywise. It’s no wonder it was awarded the World Green Car in 2017.”

The Prime’s enviable environmental credentials include an electric vehicle (EV) range of up to 63 kms, a weighted combined fuel consumption of just 1 litre per 100 kms and CO2 emissions of just 22 g/km.

“The Prime won’t leave you on the side of the road without charge,” says Mr Lala. “It will automatically switch to our cutting edge hybrid technology and deliver just 1.0L/100kms of efficiency to get you there.”

“Given the results, it’s no surprise we decided to call the new Prius, Prime, which means ‘the best’.”

It also features a vehicle world-first with gas injection heat pump air conditioning. The heat pump can efficiently warm the interior using heat absorbed from the outside air.

It also has two Toyota firsts, a battery warming system and a dual motor EV drive system.

It is another step towards Toyota Motor Corporation’s world-wide goal of reducing its fleet CO2 emissions by 90 per cent by 2050 through the use of a variety of hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicle technology.

“The 2018 model is a huge leap forward in efficiency, driving performance, innovation and styling,” said Mr Lala.

At the heart of the Prime’s improved performance is a lithium-ion battery with double the capacity of the previous battery, at 8.8 kWh. The new battery can be charged in approximately four hours and thirty minutes with a standard household plug socket and a type 2 cable.

The dual motor drive system has a highly compact one-way gear within the transaxle which allows the hybrid system generator to act as a second electric drive motor. This increases EV power for better acceleration and a higher top speed, while reducing engine start up frequency – when most fuel is used – while driving.

The new Prime has a choice of NORMAL, ECO and POWER drive modes with four additional powertrain modes HV, EV, EV City and Battery Charge mode.

EV City mode reduces maximum power output to maximise the electric vehicle driving range.

Safety technology

The Prime has pedestrian detection added to the Toyota Safety Sense package of electronic safety systems, which includes Pre Crash Safety system with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Alert with steering assist functions and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

The new Prime also gains Adaptive High Beam system and Road Sign Assist; and also has a 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating.

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Toyota to transform the retail experience

Toyota New Zealand is transforming the new vehicle purchase and ownership experience by switching to an agency model with fixed prices, named the “Drive Happy Project.”

Toyota is now offering the same transparent pricing in all their stores, nationwide. Prices will now be haggle-free. Toyota will also offer a wider selection of vehicles from three nationwide hubs to remove any pressure to buy from a limited selection of available vehicles at the dealership.

“Our way of business needs to evolve to align with our customers’ expectations,” said Alistair Davis, the CEO of Toyota New Zealand.

“We want to put the pleasure back into buying a brand-new vehicle,” said Mr Davis. “We are taking a more customer-centric approach to car buying and the entire ownership experience.”

Mr Davis said the vehicle selling process had not changed much in the last 50 years, yet today the majority of customers were using online tools to research options prior to their purchase.

“We’re not alone in having made new vehicle purchases a drawn-out affair that takes the gloss off the experience,” said Mr Davis. “We’ve observed and listened to customer feedback and are re-shaping the purchase experience.”

The most common concern was price negotiation and never being sure if you got the best deal. While the research also found the right vehicle for the buyer’s needs was more important than the best price.

Customers should feel positive about buying the right vehicle. No business wants to be known for its ‘hard selling’ tactics, says Mr. Davis, but sadly that is the reputation that comes with a traditional car dealership.

“Our research has told us people want product specialists and not just commission focussed sales people,” said Mr Davis. “We are putting considerable focus on training our people to offer hospitality and a great customer experience.”

Sales people have been re-trained as Vehicle Consultants, Product Experts, or the Store Concierge to help customers select the best vehicle for their needs.

“Buyers have the power in new vehicle purchases,” said Mr Davis. “They’ll buy when they are ready. We have to make the process as easy, transparent and welcoming as possible.”

Other updates

Along with the Drive Happy Project, Toyota New Zealand have made several other changes to their retail experience.

Under the Drive Happy Project, flexible test drive options will be available to customers, to ensure customers get the best opportunity to test a range of vehicles in the conditions that suit them.

Toyota will also offer a seven-day money back option, as long as conditions are met, for customers who are not satisfied with their final purchase.

“Customers have told us that when they are at the car buying stage, the majority of them begin their searches online,” says Mr. Davis. “We have redesigned our website to help customers in this initial research phase.”

Most of Toyota’s vehicles can now be built online to individual requirements, as well as being able to add accessories, calculate finance options and view all warranty information.

The Drive Happy Project will also include the Toyota Care Service Advantage package with every new Toyota vehicle sold through the Authorised Toyota Network. Customers will be rewarded with an extended warranty at the end of their first three years of ownership if they are regularly servicing at a Toyota Store.

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Driver training programme to use electric hybrids

Toyota New Zealand is providing the Manfeild National Driver Training Centre with three Toyota Prius plug-in electric hybrids (PHVs) to use in their training programme.

Ali and Nelly Skelton with the National Driving Training Centre’s Toyota Prius PHV at Manfeild.

The training programme centres around increasing the number of secondary school pupils gaining their restricted licence. In turn allowing students to gain NCEA credits and a defensive driving qualification making them more employable when entering the workforce.

“This programme, aimed at getting well trained, suitably qualified young drivers onto our roads, is a fantastic initiative, especially considering the lower numbers of secondary school students with an appropriate licence,” said Andrew Davis, the General Manager of Marketing for Toyota New Zealand.

“We have loaned these vehicles to the National Driver Training Centre to support them in this great community initiative.”

Toyota New Zealand also understands that electrically charged vehicles will underpin the future of transport, so students should be comfortable with their operation.

“The Prius PHVs are the kind of technology that will become increasingly common in the future, so getting drivers used to its operation makes sense.”

The new government has pledged to make driver education more accessible to school leavers.

Recent surveys have found only 44 per cent of all 18 to 24-year-olds have a restricted licence.

In recent years, many industries which use lots of drivers have struggled to find suitably qualified staff.

The road transport industry has combined with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to encourage more people into driving as a career through a Sector Workforce Employment Programme.

The National Driver Training Centre aims to provide suitably qualified drivers who have completed the first steps towards a job where a driving licence is required.

On Tuesday 21 November the National Driver Training Centre is holding an Open Day for school principals, career advisors and gateway co-ordinators to explain the courses and opportunities the National Driver Training Centre provides.

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Toyota’s FY2017-18 sustainability targets

“Climate change is arguably the single biggest issue facing society today.”

This message from Toyota New Zealand’s CEO, is outlined in his foreword to the company’s 2017 sustainability report. The report outlines the company’s vision for the future of personal transportation, corporate responsibility, and ongoing strong economic performance.

The company outlines a number of environmental initiatives in the report, including a trial of waterborne paint systems at a Thames used vehicle refurbishment facility to reduce volatile organic compound emissions and continue with a hybrid battery recycling programme.

Toyota NZ CEO Alistair Davis, with Steve Maharey, former Vice Chancellor, Massey University.

Toyota also outlined new sales targets for their EV and PHEV ranges. The company will undergo a review of the new PHV Prius for NZ market and introduce 5 Toyota and 8 Lexus hybrid vehicle models in 2017-18.  They have set sales targets of 1,188 and 4,777 for these Toyota and Lexus models respectively.

“We commend the Government’s target of 64,000 electric vehicles in New Zealand by 2021.”

To assist with the uptake of electric vehicles, Toyota will rollout charging stations throughout their dealer network later this year.

Toyota has outlined plans to support the uptake of EVs in the report.

With regards to economic performance, Toyota says that while 2017 has posed its challenges, the company is expecting further growth.

“A key challenge this year was responding to the infrastructure damage caused by the Kaikoura and Wellington earthquakes,” the report says.

“Next year we are expecting further market growth across all new vehicle sales operations. Stock availability to meet this demand remains a challenge… With a number of Japanese manufacturing plants already operating at maximum capacity, we are improving the forecast modelling to assist with improved stock management.”

Toyota also notes the significant impact that transporting their goods to, and throughout New Zealand has on the company’s environmental impact.

“This year emissions relating specifically to vehicle logistics rose, and accounted for 81 per cent of our total carbon emissions. 86 per cent of this can be accredited to our inbound operations (importing to New Zealand), and 14 per cent to outbound (distribution within New Zealand).

While some savings in emissions and logistic costs have been made, it has taken longer to reach our target of 10% of vehicles discharged in Wellington, due to the implementation of the new vehicle management system and earthquake disruptions.”

The report also notes the company’s health and safety, employment and other sustainability initiatives. The 31 page report is available in full here.

Toyota notes the difficulties faced as a result of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake in transporting vehicles and parts around the country.

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Toyota may bring Gladiator to the public

The Hilux Gladiator concept ute unveiled at Fieldays last month proved so popular, Toyota New Zealand is considering developing a version for the public.

“We built it as a show case vehicle for the Toyota display at the 2017 Mystery Creek Fieldays demonstrating a broad spectrum of customisation,” said Spencer Morris, Toyota New Zealand’s general manager of product. “We were thrilled at the response.”

The Gladiator concept, which began as a standard 4WD Hilux SR5 model, was built with the assistance of Retro Vehicle Enhancements, and included a suspension lift kit with offset 20-inch alloy wheels and tyres.

A specially-designed bull bar and winch, sump guard, snorkel, bolt-on flares, LED roof rack lights and sports bar with custom mounts for spare tyre and tools all matched the suspension, and the design was finished with custom Gladiator graphics.

Inside the cabin, a full red leather interior with carbon fibre trim and Gladiator branded mats finished off the look.

“Any commercially available Gladiator model will be slightly more practical” said Morris, who added that “some of the parts on the concept would need a special low volume certification.”

A previous accessorised Hilux Gladiator was a hit for Toyota, Morris said, with over 100 utes sold in 18 months, and he was confident the new model would also be a success.

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Toyota partners with Olympics, Paralympics NZ

(L to R) Kereyn Smith CEO of New Zealand Olympic Committee, Alistair Davis CEO Toyota NZ and Fiona Allan CEO of Paralympics New Zealand

Toyota New Zealand has announced an eight-year partnership with the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Paralympics New Zealand.

The announcement follows a global arrangement between the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and Toyota Motor Corporation.

“This partnership aligns strongly with our local Believe brand position,” said Alistair Davis, CEO of Toyota New Zealand. “The Olympic and Paralympic Games capture the world’s imagination and inspire millions everywhere to aspire to be the best they can be.”

The first event to take place during the partnership is the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea.

 “It takes huge motivation, determination and self-belief to compete at the Olympic Games,” said Kereyn Smith, CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee. “Toyota understand this, and their global partnership will help support the success of Olympians around the world.”

 “Toyota is the first worldwide Paralympic partner to support all 178 National Paralympic Committees around the world,” says Fiona Allan, CEO of Paralympics New Zealand.

“New Zealand has been recognised amongst the top strategic markets for the Paralympic partnership globally, and we are thrilled to have secured Toyota’s long-term support. I am excited about what this may mean for aspiring Para athletes in communities across New Zealand.”

The partnership means Toyota will provide a fleet of environmentally friendly buses and hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and will invest $800 million worldwide.

Toyota already has a relationship with the Olympic Games in New Zealand – shot-put Olympian and triple-medallist Valerie Adams is one of its most high-profile brand ambassadors and has represented Toyota at numerous events around the country.

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Kids design cars of the future

Hundreds of New Zealand children have entered the global Toyota Dream Car Art Contest, with winners from each age category announced this week.

The competition, now in its third year in New Zealand, ran from November 2016 to February 2017 and invited children from over 80 countries to draw their dream cars and share their ideas about the future.

The top three artists in each category will be submitted to the Japan-based world contest, with global finalists announced in June and an award ceremony held in August.

New Zealand category winners Kumar, Toni Wilson, and Sophie Irvine will take home an Apple iPad mini. National contest winners will also receive a Toyota gift pack.

Entires were judged on the message of the artwork, the uniqueness and its artistic characteristics by the Toyota New Zealand management team and Te Manawa Museum CEO Andy Lowe.

“It is quite remarkable to see such creativity in their artwork and just how important protecting and improving their environment is,” said Toyota New Zealand’s general manager of marketing, Andrew Davis.

New Zealand finalists include Toni Wilson’s “Toyota Pods”, Sophie Irvine’s “Bee-Car See Library,” Max Middlemiss’ “Robotech Crocodile Dancing Car”, Josephine Situ’s “Toyota Bee Friend” and Nina Booth’s “Phoenix Transformer.”

Over 800,000 children worldwide entered the 2016-2017 competition.

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