Toyota Motor Europe (TME) reported its annual sales for calendar year 2015 and said, despite the lowest petrol prices in five years, sales of its hybrid vehicles have continued their five-year increase to reach 209,000 units, up 17% year-on-year. Sales of Toyota and Lexus-branded hybrid vehicles now represent 24% of the group's sales on the continent, up from 20% a year ago. In western Europe only, hybrids took a third of total sales.
"Our excellent hybrid sales performance demonstrates that European consumers look beyond gas price fluctuations and are attracted by the benefits of driving a hybrid, and not just that they save on fuel and emissions," said Johan van Zyl, president and CEO of TME.
Within those hybrid sales, the Yaris hybrid recorded sales of 72,000 in 2015, up 23% versus last year. More than one in three Yaris sold in Europe is a hybrid.
The new Auris hybrid booked an increase of 12% year-on-year at 78,500 sales. More than half of all Auris sold by Toyota are hybrid.
For the Lexus premium brand, hybrid sales increased by 24% to reach 41,000 units. Hybrids make up 64% of total Lexus sales across the continent, and reach 96% of sales in western Europe alone.
"With sales of both the new generation Prius and the new RAV4 hybrid about to start, the irreversible drive towards ever more hybrid sales in Europe will continue in 2016," said van Zyl. "We aim to reach more than 400,000 sales by 2020."
2015 overall sales results
Overall sales of Toyota and Lexus vehicles reached 874,000 units in 2015 (-1.5%)
TME's sales results reflect two trends last year: sustained growth in western Europe (+7%) and Central Europe (+18%) offset by a decline in sales in eastern Europe (Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the Caucasus region) in line with the very strong market decline (-36%).
The group's overall market share was 4.6%.
"Our overall sales results in 2015 were in line with our expectations," said van Zyl. "We knew from the start that with the ruble depreciation, 2015 would not be an easy year, but we were able to maintain our share in eastern Europe whilst increasing our sales in the rest of Europe by 9.5%. We are particularly proud of the extremely strong performance of our hybrid models and the all-time record for our premium brand Lexus in Europe."
Sales of European produced Toyota vehicles increased by 27,000 units (+5%) and now represent 71% of the total sales (+6% points versus last year).
The new Aygo reached 89,000 sales, a 26% increase year-on-year, continuing to perform strongly in its second year post launch. The newly redesigned Yaris increased sales by 11% to 201,000 units. The Auris and Avensis, both updated in 2015, saw 142,000 sales for Auris (stable in a declining segment) and 35,000 sales for Avensis (+17%).
This year will see the arrival of the redesigned Prius; Rav4 hybrid; redesigned Hilux, and updated Proace.
Lexus record in Europe
Lexus has achieved its best-ever sales in Europe in 2015. Sales increased by 20% year-on-year to reach nearly 64,000 units.
"Sales grew strongly in western Europe and increased even in wastern Europe despite the market decline," said van Zyl. "We expect the strong performance achieved in 2015 to continue through 2016 towards another sales record and on track towards our 2020 target of 100,000 sales," he added.
Lexus sales increased in western Europe by 31%, in central Europe by 50% and by 1% in eastern Europe, despite the challenging environment. The market share in those respective regions increased to 1.2% (+0.2% points increase) in western Europe, 3.6% (+0.8% points) in central Europe and a record 12.2% (+3% points increase) in eastern Europe versus last year.
The new NX became Lexus' best seller with 28,000 sales, 61% of which were hybrid. The redesigned RX, launching now, will bring a significant increase in sales in 2016.
"However good they are, sales figures are just sales figures," said van Zyl. "What's most important to us in Europe is to grow our brands and our business in a solid and sustainable way, with profit."