The New 2012 Camry (Japanese Spec)

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

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.

This is its battery.

“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.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • George B George B on Sep 06, 2011

    I'm surprised at all the negative comments about the 2012 Toyota Camry. The Toyota Camry is simply the dominant mass market big sedan for the 21st century. It does the job that the Chevrolet Impala used to do. Both the 70s Impala and the current Camry LE have soft suspensions and over boosted power steering suitable for interstate driving. I'm glad that Toyota has found a way to give drivers around the world the option of the Impala experience, but with much better fuel economy.

  • Tekdemon Tekdemon on Sep 07, 2011

    Man, looking at the naked battery like that I'm rather surprised they couldn't find some way to sink it a little. Pretty clear that if they went with a run-flat they could have done it but I'm guessing the ride quality sacrifices turned them off from that. Still kinda surprising they didn't sink the components up top sticking out.

  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).
  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain
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