Late to party, Toyota will win with its crossover C-HR

Though it was late to the party, Toyota will still be successful with its newly introduced crossover the C-HR.

No doubt you’ve heard the old saying about arriving late and missing the party, right? Well, sometimes it doesn’t apply. At least, if you are in the car business, and you are making some of the industry’s leading models, and then you do have a chance to break up the old saying.

Here’s the case in point. Virtually out of nowhere in the last four years, the tiny crossover market, which was about 200,000 in 2014; doubled to 389,960 units in 2015 and was up about 88 percent again. With a market as hot as this one, no carmaker wants to stay out of it and so Nissan, Honda, Subaru and Mazda have all been very successful.

Not so Toyota, though, because the world’s number one automaker didn’t have an entry ready. That is until it introduced the C-HR. It is the second Toyota model to use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) as the basis of the vehicle. It is the second Toyota to employ TNGA, the first having been Prius.

When Toyota started working on the C-HR crossover six years ago, the automaker had planned to develop it on a small-car platform, Hiroyuki Koba, chief engineer on the C-HR, told Automotive News. About halfway through the development, Toyota switched to the new platform. “We were studying which [platform] was best and after looking at the TNGA, we said, “’This is the best,’,” Koba said.

The global platform allows the developers a great deal of flexibility. By using the platform, developers had the choice of three powertrains for the C-HR. And, the platform cuts costs and complexity by sharing components with platform mates, the Prius and the next-generation Corolla, expected in 2019.

As noted, Toyota lost time getting the C-HR to market, so it has missed out on the hot mini-crossover segment. “They are a bit late to the party,” Tim Urquhart, principal analysts for IHS said. Though they are late, Toyota only helped itself with a bold design for the C-HR. Urquart said Toyota will be successful with the C-HR’s pricing and quality. No mention of pricing was made at the C-HR’s debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The European powertrain will be unusual, a 1.8-liter hybrid four.

Originally slated to be a Scion – the Toyota division that is phasing down – the new crossover was not slated to have a hybrid powertrain available. Its powerplant was to be a 2.0-liter four. Indeed, that is the model that will appear in the U.S. At first. The U.S. Model will likely debut this year and will likely go on sale as a 2017.

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