2021 Yaris Cross Hybrid to have no waiting list? Toyota budgets big numbers for popular variants after RAV4 struggles

Speaking to media at the launch of its Yaris Cross light SUV, Toyota Australia says it has planned for mass hybrid popularity, hoping consumers won’t have to be in the up-to-eight-month waiting lists that RAV4 Hybrid buyers have been faced with.

Toyota says it expects the new Yaris Cross light SUV will fill a large niche below its C-HR small SUV and will outsell the Yaris light hatch by some margin.

It says, however, that introducing the light SUV is not a “substitute strategy”, perhaps in a sneaky jab at key rival Hyundai, which has been forced to replace its ageing Accent light hatch with the Venue – a direct Yaris Cross competitor.

The brand also reiterated the popularity of its hybrid variants in Australia, saying it expects roughly 50 per cent of all Yaris Cross sales to be hybrid models. Toyota sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley said: “We can probably deal with up to 60 per cent” of the Yaris Cross sales split in the first year being hybrid variants, noting that hybrids now make up “27.1 per cent of all sales” in Toyota’s range.

Toyota is confident hybrid variants of its new light SUV will sell well.

For reference, the entry-level front-wheel-drive Yaris Cross Hybrid GX costs from $28,990 plus on-road costs, making its closest hybrid rival the more expensive and slightly larger Subaru XV Hybrid (from $35,490).

The brand also noted its recent dip in sales was less due to COVID-related issues and more to do with supply problems importing some of the most popular cars in its range.

In the last year, consumers were faced with waiting lists of up to eight months for RAV4 variants and the brand had to import 8000 extra examples earlier in 2020, leaving it with significant backlogs of a model which now dominates the mid-size SUV segment and is up 54 per cent year-to-date.

While Toyota Australia has secured significant volume for the Yaris Cross light SUV in order to avoid a similar issue occurring, an optimistic Mr Hanley said there’s always a chance consumers could outdo the brand’s expectations as they did with RAV4. “I’ve been wrong before,” he said, “but our parent company [Toyota Japan] is very supportive of our hybrid range in Australia.”

The Yaris Cross enters Australia in three grades, with the choice of three drivetrains; one is a front-wheel drive 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol, while the other two are either front-wheel drive hybrid as seen in the Yaris light hatch range, or a new all-wheel-drive hybrid.

The Yaris Cross uses a hybrid motor only for the rear axle in AWD variants and debuts new SOS technology for the brand. The Yaris Cross uses a hybrid motor only for the rear axle in AWD variants and debuts new SOS technology for the brand.

The light SUV also has a new-generation version of the system, with the rear axle in the all-wheel-drive system being electric-only and its battery components upgraded to a leaner lithium-ion unit compared to the Corolla hybrid’s dated nickel metal hydride battery.

Yaris Cross models also debut built-in SOS technology (calls a centre at the press of a button or automatically in the event of airbag deployment) and stolen vehicle tracking, a first for Toyota in Australia.

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