Toyota targets LCV customers with Toyota Professional
Toyota’s LCV lineup is growing with the launch of the Proace City, the carmaker’s interpretation of the Citroën Berlingo. Alongside the larger Proace and the Hilux pickup truck, the new Proace City will be offered by the new sub-brand Toyota Professional.
Not only do commercial vehicles yield higher profit than regular passenger cars, the LCV market in Europe is also growing, both in terms of LCV market size (+17% from 2015 to 2018) and in terms of LCV share in the total market (from 12 to 14% in the same period). Toyota spotted an opportunity.
Enter the Proace City, another product of the long-standing partnership between PSA and Toyota. Basically, it’s a Citroën Berlingo with minimal differences - the main one being the different front end. The collaboration between Toyota and PSA started in 2005 with the Toyota Aygo/Citroën C1/Peugeot 106, a successful product that led to the first Proace in 2013, a van derived from the Citroën Jumpy/Peugeot Expert.
The new Proace City will enter production at the end of this year and first deliveries are planned for early 2020. It was unveiled at a press event at Toyota Motor Italy in Rome where representatives of Toyota Europe also revealed the carmaker’s new LCV strategy.
Characteristics of the Proace City are mostly identical to its PSA brothers, but Toyota will not get the 4x4 variant. Toyota promises best-in-class active safety, including a pre-collision system, road sign assist, sway warning, adaptive cruise control. A head-up display will help drivers keep their eyes on the road.
The Proace City can be had in two lengths and it can carry up to 1 tonne loads. A Smart Load Indicator, which can indicate overloading, will also be an appreciated feature.
When asked how Toyota would stand out from these PSA vans, Umberto Mazzone, Manager LCV Marketing, explained Toyota would focus on service.
Helping Toyota achieve this focus on service will be a new branding for its LCVs. Starting later this year, the LCV lineup will be sold under the Toyota Professional umbrella, which will allow Toyota to fulfil the needs of more demanding professional customers.
Large dealers that sell around 80 vans each year, will have a dedicated LCV Centre which is required to have a considerable stock of vehicles and to have at least one dedicated LCV consultant. However, Toyota will continue to offer its commercial vehicles through all dealers, whether or not they have an LCV Centre.
This new focus should help Toyota gain market share, particularly amongst smaller fleets and SMEs. In a later phase, large fleets could be targeted, but the carmaker feels it first needs to add more capabilities in terms of conversions, racking and other additional services.
Having a larger van could also help opening up new markets, but Toyota spokespersons admitted no plans in that sense are on the table and no talks with PSA are ongoing to have a Toyota-branded Citroën Jumper/Relay. In the same vein, no announcements could be made about a future Hilux model.
Proace Electric & Proace City Electric
In the course of 2020, Toyota will add a Proace Electric battery-electric variant to its lineup, followed by a Proace City Electric the following year. These all electric vans will first be launched in the Netherlands and Norway. In a second phase, they will be available in Spain and France. More countries will follow in a third phase.
No details could yet be given regarding range or charging capabilities. Payload capacity can be expected to be about 200kg lower.
Image: Toyota Proace City, available in two lengths