Section 3. Expansion of Asian Markets and Developments in Oceania
Item 1. From Stagnation to Growth
Soluna and Vios launched in Thailand and other countries
The upheavals caused by the Asian currency crisis resulted in a situation in which automobile industries, which previously focused on the development of internal markets, had to withstand a growing onslaught of exports of completely built vehicles and parts from inside and outside the Asian region. TMC accelerated the development and introduction of passenger cars tailored to meet Asian tastes and stepped up its sales promotions including pan-Asian campaigns.
First, the Soluna, a passenger car exclusive to Asia, was launched in Thailand in 1997. The Soluna was developed jointly with Toyota Motor Thailand Co., Ltd. (TMT), and numerous customer preferences were reflected in the design and styling. The prices were set at levels affordable to middle-income earners, and the Soluna established a solid reputation from the time of its launch. Because of the immediately following currency crisis and the subsequent economic downturn, however, the Soluna was unable to play an adequate role as the vanguard of passenger cars for Asian markets, and it was necessary to terminate the series.
The Corolla Altis was launched nearly simultaneously in each country in 2001, the first attempt of this type. When designing the Corolla Altis, numerous design features adapted for local tastes were incorporated into the Corolla, which had a well-established image as a luxury vehicle in Asia. An integrated advertising campaign with Hollywood star Brad Pitt was conducted throughout Asia with "Break into Style" as its catchphrase. The following year, an integrated campaign for the Camry was conducted in six countries.
The Vios was launched in Thailand in 2002 as the successor to the Soluna and introduced in eight countries and regions including the ASEAN countries and Taiwan in 2003. Introducing passenger cars designed for Asian markets and improving product education for dealers conducted by distributors in each country proved to be successful, and Toyota's share of the Asian passenger car market expanded.