Australian small car buyers have joined an international trend which has made the Toyota Echo and its derivatives amongst the best-selling small cars in the world.
In 2000 Toyota Australia's light car sales rose by 65 percent over the previous year, boosted by more than 12,000 Echo hatches and sedans.
Toyota's unique family of small cars based around the Echo notched up more than 650,000 sales throughout the world in 2000.
The Echo is based on Toyota's New Basic Car (NBC) platform which has spawned five radically different-looking models, and is sold in various forms in 40 markets around the world.
The Echo three and five-door hatchbacks were designed at Toyota's European Design Centre.
The design, which is sold as the Yaris in Europe and Vitz in Japan, won the 1999 European Car and Small Car of the Year awards.
The Echo sedan, which shares no body panels with the hatch, is sold in Japan as the Platz.
A completely different sedan based on the NBC platform is also sold as the Platz in Asia.
The same basic set of mechanical components also forms the basis of a mini people-mover sold at the Yaris Verso in Europe and the FunCarGo in Japan.
The bB, a mini-MPV based on the NBC platform, was designed by Toyota's subsidiary, the Virtual Venture Company (VVC) with the aim of appealing to Japanese buyers under the age of 30.
The VVC was also responsible for the most radical of the models to share Echo mechanicals - the WiLL Vi.
Since the WiLL Vi went on sale in Japan in early 2000 demand has out-stripped supply.
The car is designed as the centre-piece of a radical marketing exercise aimed at young Japanese consumers.
The WiLL Vi - along with WiLL branded cosmetics, beer, and electronic goods - is being sold on the internet.
Echo in Australia features 1.3 litre and 1.5 litre Twin Cam Multi-valve engines with intelligent variable valve timing to provide maximum power, economy and emission control.