Despite toughening economic conditions, Toyota GB will remember 2002 as its tenth year of record vehicle sales in the United Kingdom.

The star player in the Toyota line-up was the new, UK-built Corolla launched in January last year. Corolla won over a great many converts thanks to the combination of Toyota’s legendary quality, contemporary European styling and a distinctly humorous edge to the award winning advertising.

The statistics summarising Toyota GB’s year are:

"These record results were achieved in the face of a number of business challenges," explained R Graham Smith, Managing Director of Toyota (GB) PLC. "The competitive environment has been extremely aggressive with an escalation in discounting in a tactically-driven market.

"Changes to the laws on franchising for car sales and service outlets (Block Exemption) have driven our need to re-organise the dealer network, resulting in an inevitable period of transition to a structure based on our future partners. Finally, Government fiscal measures (CO2 emissions based company car taxation system that favours diesels) have negatively impacted our Lexus business."

Smith is in no doubt 2003 will see a similarly tough market. "We are focusing on 2003 with new, higher objectives to achieve, but face many of the same challenges to overcome."

Both the Toyota and Lexus brands start the year with optimism based in part on new models. For Toyota there is the new Avensis. Like Corolla it is another UK-built, European styled model that will be launched in March and aimed at the heart of the family and fleet markets. For premium brand Lexus there is the recently unveiled RX300 luxury SUV that will challenge the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class in the UK from May.

Published : 14/01/03 Author : Melanie Carter

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