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Cars to be more desirable and with greater emotional appeal

New Toyota Prius is part of the Toyota and Lexus masterplan to deliver 19 new products over the next 36 months

New Prius: hybrids a key role in new-look Toyota

TOYOTA – a byword for dependability (and dullness). Luxury Lexus – superb craftsmanship (devoid of emotion).

If this is your image of the Toyota and Lexus brands then the guys at the top selling you the business cars wouldn’t disagree.

“Future Toyota cars must be fun to drive,” commented Ewan Shepherd, general manager of Toyota and Lexus Fleet, while Lexus is to become a “thrilling fleet choice rather than a sensible one”.

To make his point, Ewan said that the brands were passionate about customer comes first and making Toyota and Lexus fit for fleet, with a focus on the SME business car sector.

And that meant growing the business car and company car fleet share by 4% based on three pillars: new products; investment in communications at every touch point; and investment in the brands to drive new customers to Toyota and Lexus.

So what does that mean for business car managers? More hybrid choices to lower benefit in kind company car tax for business drivers and from 2014 a tie up with BMW to put the German car maker’s 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel engines in the Japanes brands cars.

“We want to deliver more exciting, more emotionally involved product,” added Ewan, as both brands plan 19 new or enhanced products over 36 months.

So here’s how Toyota and Lexus plan to change the offerings for SMEs and small businesses.

Hilux and Avensis start new model roll out The roll out has already started with the Toyota Hilux pickup, and new Toyota Avensis which has been available since December 2011, offering restyled front end and Toyota says a better driving experience. The TR model is the best selling business specification with the 2.0 diesel offering 119g/km CO2 emissions.

2012 Aygo New Aygo arrives Q1 2012 with updated looks, better specification, and now CO2 emissions of 99g/km.

New Prius The car that stands for hybrids will be given a Q1 2012 launch with sharper exterior styling, LED running lights, reversing camera, and improvements to suspension for a more dynamic character. “The Prius will continue to attract 10% company car tax and 100% writing down allowance down over next two years,” said Ewan.

Prius Plus This is Prius – only bigger with seven seats. Toyota is promising sub-100g/km CO2 emissions and 65mpg – “no other 7-seater can boast this,” said Ewan.

Prius plug-in hybrid The Prius plug-in can drive in electric only mode for 14 miles with zero tailpipe emissions, but unlike fully electric cars, there’s no range anxiety – because the hybrid petrol-electric combo kicks in when needed. It offers an astonishing 130mpg, 49g/km CO2 with means the car will only attract 5% benefit in kind company car tax, while the batteries can be charged in less than 90 minutes.

Yaris Hybrid Another Toyota hybrid which goes on sale late 2012 offering a hybrid choice in the supermini sector with 80g CO2.

GT86 Toyota gets back to basics with a raw sports car that still offers 37mpg, and despite performance qualifies under the key 160g CO2 tax break.

Lexus CT 200h f-sport Arrives January 2012, offering sports styling, different suspension settings and sporty interior treatment in this premium hybrid hatchback.

Lexus RX 450h New Lexus front end, with an F-sport model introduced with styling enhancements to this SUV and, Lexus claims, running costs up to £9000 lower than competitors.

All new Lexus GS 450h The BMW 5 Series competitor gets new looks, 343hp and 141g CO2 for just 19% benefit in kind company car tax. Lexus also promises the largest multimedia in-car display.

Lexus GS 450h f-sport version Represents a new type of Lexus, reckons Ewan, offering excitement and dynamism to the brand with four different drive modes to suit your mood. Available from June 2012.

LFA sports car Stonking V10-engined F1 inspired sports car.

Read our interview with Ewan Shepherd

Toyota feels the passion for SMEs


See the new models in the new Toyota/Lexus line up

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