There is “no firm plan” for a Ford Ranger Raptor rival in the form of a flagship Toyota HiLux model, though the company admits it is “looking at things in the future”.
Those are the words of Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, who told media at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show that the company is conscious of what’s happening in the high-end ute space, and that it doesn’t want to be left behind.
“We don’t have a firm plan outside of the line-up that we have currently - which is doing quite well in it’s own right, actually,” said Mr Hanley.
“But certainly we’re watching that market very carefully, and it’s moving quickly, and it’s ultra competitive.
“Products are coming seemingly by the month at the moment, and there’s some formidable competition out there - no doubt.
“We’re continually looking at the HiLux line-up and the kinds of things we may be able to do locally to enhance that line-up,” he said, before going on to state that there’s nothing signed off for our market just yet when it comes to a high-end four-wheel-drive dual-cab to go up against its arch-rival, and newcomers such as the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior.
“HiLux is Australia’s number-one selling car, and we don’t want to surrender that anytime soon. So we’re going to continue to look at how we can improve, and how we can broaden that range to make sure that we maintain our leadership in that segment.
“We’re a fairly big HiLux contributor to the global volume, so we have a good say in product development going forward,” Mr Hanley said, indicating that a potential HiLux GR Sport or HiLux TRD style model could be on the cards for Australia.
“We’re getting wonderful support from our parent company and we will continue to have those discussions. We’re all acutely aware of the competition out there, and acutely aware of the competition in the Australian market, so you can be sure we won’t be surrendering our leadership of that segment anytime soon.
“Does that point to us looking at things for the future? You better believe we are,” he said.
Toyota took a surprise tact when it came to offering alternative high-spec models when it added the HiLux Rogue, HiLux Rugged and HiLux Rugged X to its range in 2018.
"They’ve been a really good asset, those cars - adding incremental sales to the HiLux results. And we’ve been quietly very pleased with what those cars have brought to the brand."