Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled the new minivans Alphard and Vellfire on January 26th. They do not only aim to extend the minivan, but they also developed these vehicles with the aim of creating an entirely new category, the luxury saloons.
Speaking of the Alphard/Vellfire, these vehicles are in a state where they already have no rivals in Japan’s luxury minivan market. Its multiple seating capacity is not only for family use, but as of recently, for the growing corporate demands as well. Toyota expects to further increase corporate demands with these new models. Looking at the 2015 passenger vehicle sales volume, the Vellfire cuts into 22nd place with 36,734 units, and the Alphard is in 29th place with 25,863 units. If both sales are combined, they would add up to 62,597 units. Despite taking away the tax increase, each unit’s cost is still sizable with their prices that range more than 3 million yen.
Kenichi Yoshioka, development chief in Toyota’s product planning head office, said, “Those who will ride luxury saloons would be able to achieve with these vehicle what they could not achieve before; no matter how much they would do their best they cannot recline in a fully flat road. I think there are more Japanese nowadays investing big on what fits with their own values.”
What are the reasons they support this vehicle this much?
Yoshioka said, “I believe that these vehicles are quite capable of matching the needs of the customers. Easy driving and comfort at the rear seats are some needs a user might expect to be met by these vehicles, be they for family or corporate use. During development, we thoroughly researched the common points among a wide range of needs such as indoor space and riding comfort.”
According to Yoshioka, they are anticipating the models’ strong presence both in their appearance and their demands in the corporate market. “Recently, these vehicles are being used by politicians and wealthy people. These are the type of people who use vehicles that have strong appearances, to provide themselves a sense of presence such that they would feel like they are riding a luxury vehicle one would ride towards a luxury hotel.” says Yoshioka.
(Translated by Natassia Jeronne D. Martinez)