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Toyota aims to woo fleet with new Rav4

Date: 01 February 2016   |   Author:

Toyota may currently sell around 45% of its vehicles to fleet, but the brand hopes its new Rav4 off-roader will win over many more company drivers.

This is at least in part thanks to a hybrid version that slashes benefit-in-kind costs and the introduction of Business Edition trim, which features standard satnav, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control and a rear-view camera for a modest P11D figure.

"We see there's an opportunity to grow the sales for the Rav4 in the fleet channels, particularly with the user-chooser markets," said David Hilbert, Toyota GB's general manager, vehicle marketing. Helping to boost the scope of the Rav4 - which is now available in hybrid form for the first time - according to Hilbert, is the changing Plug-in Car Grant, which will slash funding made available for plug-in hybrids from £5000 to £2500 from March onwards.

This means that non-plug-in petrol-electric models could become the go-to option for users wanting to lower their BIK and leasing costs without opting for a diesel - following the Government's U-turn on phasing out the 3% diesel surcharge, which now stays until at least 2021 - thanks to their lower purchase prices. As it is, Toyota expects 50% of Rav4 sales to be hybrids, with a further 40% of buyers opting for the two-wheel drive diesel and 10% opting for the automatic four-wheel drive petrol.

Despite the popularity of plug-in models, Hilbert says that Toyota has decided not to introduce a Rav4 that can be plugged in: "We're very aware that if you look at the European trend, plug-ins are only selling where governments are stepping in. It's a distorted demand at the moment, so that's not going to be sustainable forever. At the moment, we think hybrid is the best mix because you don't need the Government grant."

However, Hilbert stated that it would be "very easy to adapt the Rav4 Hybrid to cater for plug-in", should interest in plug-in models remain strong after the reduced plug-in grant is rolled out, "because we've got plug-in technology in the Prius".

Despite the Rav4 traditionally selling in greater numbers to retail customers than fleets, Toyota is looking to balance this out, with the Business Edition grade and the new hybrid option, which it hopes will see the model onto more company car lists and steal sales from upper medium models.

According to Hilbert, Toyota is also working with resale value guides to improve the car's residual value figures, which in the hybrid's case currently lag behind mainstream and premium rivals, inflating its whole-life costs