Toyota: New Zealand’s favourite car brand for 30 years, or is it?—UPDATED

It’s a common sight, advertisers slapping on the superlatives, the slick rhetoric and the definitive claims, which often sound sugary and sweet, but can quickly turn sour.

Notably, SsangYong who proclaimed itself to be ‘the best value mid-size SUV’ and fellow SUV Mahindra New Zealand who claimed it was ‘the best value seven-seater’. Unfortunately, each brand found themselves in hot water as the ASA quashed both claims, proving they simply were not the best.

Toyota has now indulged itself in the game of absolutist style slogans with its claim to be ‘New Zealand’s favourite car brand for 30 years’.

So, is Toyota treading in clean, dirty or murky waters?

Having fronted its campaign with one of New Zealand’s largest pests, two feral possums, Toyota isn’t sugar coating anything in the way of a glossy brand image. However, as the two possums are perched on a suburban tree, what is being said about Toyota is worth noting and possibly requires further verification.

The most recent ad runs a timeline of three different eras; the 80s, 90s and 2000s, with each era represented in the possums’ spruced up haircuts. During each era, the two rodents exclaim Toyota as New Zealand’s favourite, making it ‘New Zealand’s favourite car brand for 30 years’.

But the question begs, does the word ‘favourite’ require Toyota to be the highest performer across all boards? The highest selling car brand? The most attractive car? The car with the smoothest purr?

First off, it’s important to note, New Zealand has the fourth largest car ownership rate in the world, with 774 light vehicles per 1000 people in 2016, according to ehinz data.  

And Toyota claims that one in four vehicles on New Zealand roads are its own, more than any other car brand in the country, according to its original advertisement.

Outside of Toyota, according to Nielsen figures, it is the most likely car brand to be purchased by Kiwis.

Additionally, according to Voxy, Toyota held 20.7 percent of the market share in 2017. So, in this case, it has partially justified its claims. However, Toyota isn’t everything to everyone.

A key category Toyota didn’t win was the highest selling individual vehicle – succumbing to the mighty Ford Ranger, which has taken out the award for the last three years ahead of the Toyota Hilux and Toyota Corolla.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s trusty motor vehicle assistance services, AA awarded its 2017 Car of the Year Award to the Skoda Kodiaq. Toyota made no appearances in the short list of ten finalists.

It is difficult to say whether Toyota is simply the most affordable and accessible car brand or the favourite. It appears advertising agencies will continue to throw caution to the wind with absolutist claims to fame, so let us leave Toyota in the best place possible, a cloudy grey area. 

Update: Since publishing the piece, Toyota has shared the information that the 30-year claim is based on the accumulated Motor Industry Association’s data which records the number of vehicle registrations in New Zealand. 

In addition to this, the Colmar Brunton’s corporate reputation index 2017 shows Toyota is the second most trusted brand in NZ behind Air NZ. 

In the readers digest trusted brands 2017, Toyota is the most trusted car band. Toyota is also the only car brand to feature in New Zealand’s top ten most trusted brands. 

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