Published on April 20th, 2022 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
How UMW Toyota Got Their ‘Game’ Back
Is the Corolla Cross the only game changer for UMW Toyota?
When Toyota lost their leadership edge in Malaysia to Honda some 6 years ago there were heads rolling at UMW Toyota (the brand guardian in Malaysia). Since the dawn of the Honda vs Toyota quiet rivalry in Malaysia, Toyota has been the segment leader with a ‘lions share’ of total sales and Honda Malaysia had quietly and slowly increased their presence in the Malaysian market.
Then when Honda Malaysia launched their first crossover, the HR-V, Toyota just stood and watched without any reaction as they were not interested in having a rival model for Malaysians. The HR-V was a sales hit and two years later Honda Malaysia had overtaken Toyota in Malaysia to be the No.1 non-national car brand.
So, why did UMW Toyota not have a rival for the HR-V? Well, at the time the Toyota C-HR Crossover was being developed and a few years later it was a launch success in Japan and Europe. We remember seeing it all around Europe and there was NO regional ASEAN assembly for the C-HR, so there was no intention to import the C-HR into Malaysia to compete with the HR-V.
Meanwhile, this was the very first time, anywhere in the world where Toyota had been overtaken by Honda and it was a product range issue. Why? Well Toyota did not even have a SUV in Malaysia to rival for the popular Honda CR-V which has been the segment leader for years. (Yes, the RAV4 was selling well all over the world and was even the No.1 SUV in America).
Toyota ASEAN headquarters saw no reason to have the RAV4 SUV assembled in ASEAN for sales success.
Losing the No.1 crown woke up the Toyota regional office and so Toyota management scrambled and moved quick to have a HR-V rival for sale and so the C-HR Crossover arrived, fully imported and with a wide price gap over the HR-V. It sold well, but not well enough to dent Honda Malaysia’s No.1 position.
So, it was time to get an AFTA assembled Crossover for the ASEAN region and the Corolla Cross was born. With two variants, a petrol and a hybrid this is now UMW’s top and fastest selling model and part of the reason why Toyota is back in the No.1 position in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Honda Malaysia is not sitting quiet as the all new 2022 model HR-V hybrid is about to be launched and it will have many features to persuade some buyers away from the Corolla Cross hybrid.
It will be interesting to see the final sales figures for both brands this December 2022 and watch where the No.1 crown will rest.
Meanwhile, here is some information on the popular Corolla Cross. The Corolla Cross sits on the GA-C platform which is a lightweight and very rigid to provide nimble and stable steering despite its height. The use of good sound-absorbing materials helps to reduce engine noise and tarmac noise, even at speeds that are illegal.
Safety features are high with Toyota Safety Sense provided. The list is long and includes Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) and Automatic High Beam (AHB).
Plus, there are seven airbags, blind-spot monitoring, hill start assist, vehicle stability control, rear cross traffic alert and tire pressure monitoring.
The hybrid powered Corolla Cross (5-year standard vehicle warranty is included) is sold with more than just a hybrid battery eight-year warranty. UMW Toyota also includes an inverter and power management control warranty (first warranty of its kind in Malaysia) that other hybrid vehicle brands do not offer. Also, for a peace of mind motoring, it can be extended to another 2 years with a fee of RM2,950.
Selling price of the Cross Hybrid is RM136,550 and the Honda HR-V e-HEV is targeted to arrive at a selling price of just below RM139,000.