Today, the 7th generation Camry was shown to the Japanese press in Tokyo. It was weeks after the new Camry had been shown in the U:S. and tested by the creme de la TTAC. Actually, it feels like Japan was the last country to get a Camry launch. And honestly, the country deserves short shrift: Less than one percent of the total worldwide Camry production (692,000 in 2010) is sold in Japan. With 14 million made up to date, the Camry is one of the world’s best selling cars, and the Japanese snub their noses at it. More than half of the production goes to the U.S., 22 percent are sold in China, the rest of the world takes the rest.
Frank Greve who had flogged manufacturer largesse with journalists would love Japanese car launches, especially those by Toyota. No business class flights to Scotland, no private planes to Sicily, no free iPads. The only thing you get for free at Toyota is an invitation and a bottle of water when it’s hot. They don’t need freebies: The A-list of the media, from the Nikkei to Dow Jones, from Reuters to NHK shows up, they report what they see and usually hit “send” before the event is over.
Today’s launch was a masterpiece of essentialism. It took place in a drab meeting room of the Japan Auto Manufacturers Association. Test drives?
Forget it: There was exactly one black Camry parked next to the building, and it wasn’t available for driving. Honestly, I like these frugal events. They are real press conferences, not a sales show.
And we could clear up something that had vexed the Best and Brightest for a while: The was a rumor going around that the U.S. would get a different Camry that “the Asians.” Let’s have a look, at least as far as a part of Asia is concerned that is called Japan.
From the front: Not so much difference:
From the side: Not so much difference.
Under the hood: Whoa. All new Camry models for the Japan market are propelled by the Toyota Hybrid System (THS) II. It uses a newly developed 2.5-liter Atkinson engine (2AR-FXE) with reduction gear. Hybrids account for 14 percent of all regular cars sold in Japan, so Toyota offers the Camry in Japan as hybrid only.
“The Camry doesn’t sell as much here as it does in the States, so we decided to focus on fuel economy,” deputy chief engineer Keiichi Yoneda explained. The car gets 26.5 km/l under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) test cycle and 23.4 km/l under the JC08 test cycle. That would be 62.3 mpg and 55 mpg respectively – definitely non-EPA. Still, the JDM Camry is basically the USDM Camry Hybrid.
There is one thing Americans won’t get, and that’s Made in Japan Camrys. Most U.S. Camrys are made in Kentucky. However, in the past a few Japan-made Camrys found their way stateside. This will stop, as it was announced at the press conference.