Toyota SA reveals latest Urban Cruiser in new-model onslaught
Affordable Vitz and updated Fortuner are also headed to our shores in 2023
The new-generation Urban Cruiser crossover, the entry-level Vitz hatchback and the updated Fortuner SUV are among a spate of new models being introduced by Toyota SA in 2023.
Having survived as the country’s most popular new-vehicle brand in 2022 despite the flooding of its Durban factory, Toyota’s new arrivals will help consolidate the company’s market-leading position, which it has held for 43 years.
At Toyota SA’s sixth annual state of the motor industry conference held in Midrand last week, Andrew Kirby, the company’s president and CEO, predicted a total new-vehicle market of 570,000 units in SA despite rising interest rates affecting affordability. This is a 7.8% increase from the 528,963 sold in 2022, with Kirby believing 580,000 could have been attained without the supply constraints affecting the global motor industry. He believes supply will improve in 2023 but semiconductor restraints will continue.
The B segment represented 49% of last year’s local car sales and the Urban Cruiser was Toyota’s best performer in that market. Based on the Suzuki Vitara Brezza in a cost-saving partnership between the two companies, the Urban Cruiser launched in 2021 became one of SA's most popular vehicles. In 2022 it attracted 16,992 new owners to make it the third best-selling passenger car behind the VW Polo Vivo and Suzuki Swift.
Production of the car has ended at the factory in India and Toyota will replace it with a new Urban Cruiser based on the larger Suzuki Grand Vitara. The company says it will cost more than its predecessor with prices to be revealed at the local launch.
Technical details are also unconfirmed but it's likely the new Urban Cruiser will continue to be powered by a 1.5l normally aspirated petrol engine and retain front-wheel drive.
The Toyota Vitz will be introduced in the second quarter as a rebadged Suzuki Celerio and will replace the Agya as Toyota's cheapest car in the country. The tiny A-segment hatchback replaces the Toyota Agya which had a short tenure in SA since being launched in 2020 as replacement for the Aygo.
The Vitz is identical to the Celerio and powered by the same 1.0l petrol engine with outputs of 49kW and 89Nm.
Toyota has not confirmed pricing but it's likely to be similar to the Celerio, which retails for between R178,900 and R213,900. The Agya is priced between R200,000 and R215,600.
The Fortuner is SA’s most popular large SUV and in 2023 it is being refreshed with aggressive new styling featuring revised LED headlamps, front grille and bumper treatment. There is also an added red and black interior trim option.
Toyota will introduce the Crown as a sample introduction with a few retail units in 2023. The striking car is chock-a-block with space and comfort, and the petrol-electric hybrid claims a fuel consumption of just 4.4l/100km.
Two new models will be introduced by Toyota’s luxury Lexus brand: the petrol-electric NX PHEV (plug-in hybrid) which can drive up to 60km on pure electric power; and the new-generation RX which comprises petrol and hybrid.
The new Lexus models advance the Toyota group’s electrification strategy which has seen the company launching hybrid versions. Mostly by virtue of the popular Corolla Cross hybrid, the company holds 76% of SA’s new-energy vehicle (NEV) sales.
Unlike most car manufacturers, Toyota Motor Corporation doesn’t have a cutoff date for internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and believes electric vehicles (EVs) are not the solution for every market. The company has a multi-pronged strategy including ICE, hybrids, EVs and hydrogen cars.
Toyota SA is conducting feasibility studies on two new-energy vehicles it has brought to the country for testing: the hydrogen fuel cell Mirai, which has a range of 600km and emits only water vapour; and an electric Lexus UX BEV (battery-electric vehicle) with a claimed range of 450km.
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