Toyota Australia says that its investment into the Gazoo Racing (GR) performance sub-brand with the launch of the GR Yaris is not about chasing volume or short-term gain, but proving to the world that the Japanese giant can make performance cars that take on the best.

    Speaking to CarExpert at the launch of the new Toyota Kluger this week, Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing said the GR brand was not about volume and dollars, but about fun-to-drive and excitement around the brand.

    “I mean everyone when they think about automotive, they think it’s all about how many cars you sold,” he said.

    “Yes of course that is important with scale affordability and lots of other things, but there is another side to GR and that’s about proving to the world that Toyota can make performance cars and we can make it affordable and attractive to everyone.”

    Toyota Australia launched the first 1000 GR Yaris models at a sub $40,000 price point, supporting those customers with a pretty hefty discount in the form of an investment in getting the cars out the door and into the hands of enthusiasts to build the GR nameplate and brand credibility.

    According to Mr Hanley, despite the controversy around its launch (with the price subsequently rising and many GRs being sold for profit by speculators) the results have been fantastic for Toyota’s desire to invest into the GR brand.

    “There was a lot of commentary around how we brought it to market and why we did it, and I sit here now and look at the result and the excitement, I look at the GR club and membership and engagement by the enthusiast, and we always said it was an investment into the GR brand and thats exactly how it’s unfolding,” he added.

    “It’s exciting and we are still selling GR Yaris today and we’ve still got people wanting to buy that car.

    “First thing is, it’s not a short-term investment… the fact of the matter is we made that investment as a GR investment, not a one car investment. It’s an investment in the overall GR brand going forward, so the measurement of that success is not over one year or one model, it will be what it does over the next ten years.”

    Asked whether Toyota Australia would better estimate the potential demand for future GR models, Mr Hanley told CarExpert that it was difficult to predict the initial demand for the GR Yaris and that has now changed completely.

    “I dare say that if we went back a year and half ago no one would know about GR, but I think today people know what GR is, they know it’s a performance Toyota sub-brand and we will expand upon that as we go forward, as we expand the product range, and I think the investments we made in the last 12 months will pay the dividends.”

    The GR brand is expected to expand with additional models in the form of the GR Corolla and perhaps even the GR LandCruiser and GR RAV4 in the near future.

    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine. The best way to reach him is via Instagram.

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