Toyota aims to overtake Honda in 2021 sales, reclaim place as Malaysia’s No.1 non-national auto brand

Toyota aims to overtake Honda in sales this year and reclaim the No.1 non-national spot from its Japanese counterpart. The mission was stated in UMW Holdings Berhad’s corporate presentation that was released this month. The conglomerate is the majority shareholder in UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT), the importer and distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles in Malaysia.

The mission to “reclaim market leadership in the non-national segment” will be supported by the launch of new models. Earlier this month, UMWT unveiled the Fortuner facelift and Innova facelift, with the Corolla Cross C-segment SUV to follow in the second quarter of the year. There will also be a new sedan and another “GR model”, both of which will be unveiled in Q4 2021.

The presentation slide also reveals that UMWT plans to “secure new CKD models for C-segment and commercial” this year. The C-segment model set to be locally assembled should be the Corolla Cross, which debut in Thailand mid 2020. The company is also looking at the “introduction of more CKD hybrid vehicles moving forward”. The Corolla Cross has a hybrid variant, so the Corolla Cross Hybrid – a conventional non-plug-in hybrid – is a candidate for local assembly.

New products aside, UMWT will look to its in-house Toyota Capital and banks for “innovative financing packages” as an avenue for growth. Other channels identified include e-commerce, where Toyota plans to introduce its own platform to complement the existing official stores on Lazada and Shopee. The company also intends to widen its customer base, with government fleet sales and pre-owned vehicles identified as potential growth areas.

Back to Toyota’s 2021 mission, which is to reclaim the No.1 non-national make title from Honda. The goal is expected, as there aren’t many markets in the world, if at all, that Honda sits above Toyota, the world’s top-selling carmaker.

Honda has been the top-selling foreign make in Malaysia since 2015, when it overtook Toyota for the first time ever. It then went on to achieve 109,511 units in 2017, the highest annual total ever for a non-national brand in Malaysia.

Sales of Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda in Malaysia, 2011-2020

While it just about retained the No.1 non-national spot last year, Honda’s 60,468 units sold in 2020 was its lowest since the days that it was duelling with Nissan (2013). Meanwhile, Toyota sold 58,501 units last year, a smaller drop compared to Honda. Since losing out to Honda in 2015, Toyota experienced a sharp decline and sales had settled in the 60-70k band ever since, save for 2020’s small dip. As they finished neck-to-neck in 2020, it’s all to play for this year – may the best Japanese team win!

Did you know that Honda used to duel with Nissan in sales while Toyota was on a different plane altogether, regularly posting sales above 100k units? Follow us as we track the ups and downs of Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda over the past decade, and see where are they now.

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