By on June 28, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry SE white - Image: ToyotaExcited at the prospect of an all-new midsize sedan despite a drastic decrease in demand for midsize sedans, Toyota is ramping up employment at the Camry’s assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky.

With 700 additional manufacturing workers helping to launch the 2018 Toyota Camry, employment at Toyota’s Kentucky facility grew to 8,000, more than at any point in the plant’s three-decade history.

Toyota also builds Avalons and Lexus ES350s in Georgetown. (The Venza, a former Georgetown wagon, is dead.) But it’s the Camry, especially this all-new 2018 Camry, that will bring glory to the Kentucky plant if glory can indeed be brought.

Jack Hollis, the Toyota division’s group vice president and general manager, strongly believes the Camry is the beginning of a pro-sedan wave in America. In an extended interview with Autoline, Hollis spoke highly of the 2018 Camry’s potential, and of the potential for the entire car sector once the Camry stimulates demand.

“I think you’re going to see the entire sedan market pick up,” Hollis told Autoline, before hedging only a bit. “We’ll see a year from now.”

Indeed, the presumed pick-up will take time to measure. The new Camry will be followed shortly by an all-new, 10th-generation Accord, a car about which Honda — notoriously secretive — is gradually leaking details in order to engender a measure of hype. We expect to see a new Nissan Altima shortly thereafter. At that point, the three best-selling midsize sedans in America, already improving their market share at the end of their respective lifecycles, will be the newest members of the fleet, poised for even greater dominance in the segment.

But how much higher will the SUV/crossover sector have climbed by the time the new Camry and new Accord can establish renewed interest in the sedan bodystyle? Through the first five months of 2017, passenger cars are down to 37 percent market share thanks to the loss of more than 300,000 sales. SUVs/crossovers, meanwhile, have produced nearly 200,000 additional sales and have increased their share of the overall market to 41 percent; the two categories essentially swapped places over the span of just twelve months.2016/2017 toyota tacomaIn the Camry’s case, Toyota believes the new sedan can do for midsize cars what the Toyota Tacoma did for midsize trucks, at least in a sense. While many small/midsize truck nameplates faded away, the Tacoma held steady. Then, even as General Motors re-inserted its nose into the small/midsize arena, the Tacoma produced greater sales — not fewer — and then ballooned when a new model was launched.

2015 was the best year ever for U.S. Tacoma sales, until the Tacoma smashed that record in 2016. With plenty of help from competitors, midsize pickup truck sales jumped 40 percent in 2015 and a further 26 percent in 2016.

“That’s why I believe the same thing will happen here,” Toyota’s Hollis says, referring to the midsize sedan segment. “Do I think that we’re going to go from a market of two-thirds/one-third SUV to car and reverse it or flatten it? No, not at all.”

But Hollis believes that the 37 percent market share currently attributed to cars is a floor and will tilt back up.


“People want choice,” Hollis contends. Toyota, with a vast car portfolio and a huge utility vehicle network and a minivan and a pair of pickup trucks, offers plenty of that.

Toyota doesn’t just expect to see improvement from the Camry and its cohorts. Hollis considers the scenario to be critical. “The sales volume we have has gotta continue to be my number one focus,” Hollis says,”because I want those sales so we can continue to take that money and invest in products for the future.”

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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47 Comments on “Toyota Truly Believes 2018 Camry Will Do For Midsize Sedans What Tacoma Did For Midsize Trucks; Kentucky Plant Employment At All-Time High...”

  • avatar

    Lift the entire sedan market, and get buyers to forget all about crossovers?

    I don’t know what Hollis is smoking, but I want some of it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Toyota is ramping up employment at the Camry’s assembly plant”

    Well, that must vex the workers at GM’s Malibu assembly plant.

  • avatar

    …But Hollis believes that the 37 percent market share currently attributed to cars is a floor and will tilt back up.


    “People want choice,” Hollis contends. Toyota, with a vast car portfolio and a huge utility vehicle network and a minivan and a pair of pickup trucks, offers plenty of that.

    Toyota doesn’t just expect to see improvement from the Camry and its cohorts. Hollis considers the scenario to be critical. “The sales volume we have has gotta continue to be my number one focus,” Hollis says,”because I want those sales so we can continue to take that money and invest in products for the future.”…

    It all goes back to a price of a gallon of gas at the pump. We continue to have a historic glut of crude oil on the planet due in large part to drill baby drill fraccing activities in the United States, now the largest oil producing nation on the planet (and it isn’t even close anymore).

    There is nothing, short of global war, asteroid strike, or the complete collapse of Middle East OPEC nations, that is going to change that.

    Americans have ridiculously short memories. $5 a gallon gas??? Did that ever happen? Really? They want SUVs, CUVs, and pick ’em up trucks.

    Will a redesigned Camry bump sales? D’uh. Obvious day at camp stupid. Will it magically create a new normal in the industry for the midsize segment? That’s pretty laughable without some big change in market dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Americans favored pickup trucks even with $5 gas. The price just doesn’t seem to matter, except during spikes.

    • 0 avatar

      Seems that gas spikes happen ever 30 or so years, so we have some time. And yea, Americans will pay out the nose to drive their trucks.

      Bigger concern here should be that manufacturers can’t sell anything besides a CR-V without putting 4 figure sums on teh hood. All this volume is no good if you have to give cars away to get it.

  • avatar

    I think Toyota must have gotten a good look at the upcoming Accord and realized the Camry is now a much better choice. That plus the Fusion is getting pretty old.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking the same regarding the accord. With the new Accord, Honda is basically giving a gift to Toyota. Camry will dominate this sedan segment.

      • 0 avatar

        We shall certainly see — not only did Toyota keep the V6, but the Accord V6 was axed from the very beginning of the development cycle for the new Accord!

        They’ve got their work cut out for them, and with decisions like the overwrought look of the Civic Hatch, and the Si being fitted with a CR-V engine turned to run on premium unleaded instead of a detuned Type-R motor, they’re showing signs of serious plot-loss on a 2012 Civic-scale! (Again!)

    • 0 avatar

      I’d have to agree with this. After owning three previously, I’ve made it clear that my ’17 V6 Accord will be my last, given their foolhardy decision to go turbo. That Toyota respects its “legacy” customers and offers a V6 with 301hp in the Camry definitely has my attention.

  • avatar

    The Camry’s future is named RAV4.

    I used to hate this idea, but the market can’t be wrong. Ingress and egress are so much easier in a raised hatchback compared to the lower 4-door sedan. Unless you add AWD, weight and fuel economy are closer than ever to their sedan counterparts.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh, SO much easier! I mean, getting into a 4-door sedan like a Camry is just TORTURE.

      Give me a break. Yeah – if you weigh 400 pounds.

      • 0 avatar

        Most Americans are obese. Thank you Corn Lobby! Thank you Big Agra! Thank you HFCS in everything imaginable! Just as safe as a pack of Pall Malls!

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not fat people- it’s Moms. Little CUV’s are starter family cars that then graduate to 3 row seating CUV’s. And CUV’s are better for cramming your kids in back. Plus people want the image of being ‘active lifestyle’ people which CUV’s have successfully cultivated.

        Obese people buy clapped out Metros.

        • 0 avatar

          I just fitted a baby car seat to my wife’s CUV (Ford Escape). The ISOfix system made it easy but I had to push the front seat so far forward that I can barely get into it now. If I put the baby seat behind the driver’s seat, I wouldn’t be able to drive the car.

          My full-size sedan has no problem getting a baby seat in the back and adults in the front seats. (No surprise, it’s longer than the Escape which is basically a jacked-up Focus).

          Yes, getting kids in and out of the Escape will be a bit easier due to its slightly higher seats but I really think that this “CUVs are kid friendly” at best deserves an asterisk and possibly is not really true.

          • 0 avatar

            It’s just an asterisk–depends on the model.

          • 0 avatar

            ^nvinen is correct. CUV’s like the RAV4 and Escape are equally priced to mid-size sedans, but have the interior space of compacts. Consumers are willingly getting ripped off for a few inches of ride height and AWD.

        • 0 avatar


          Loading our son into my wife’s 500L is about half as difficult as it is for my Accord.

          My next family car will be another sedan, but it’s because I like the look.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not torture but it does make a difference when your parking stall is narrow. I slide into a CUV or minivan whereas I have to bend over to get into a Camry.

        Once inside a CUV, I have more headroom and I sit more upright, with my weight better distributed over the length of my thighs instead of concentrated at the bum.

        Plus, having to load kids at least doubles the amount of back-bending.

        A compact MPV like the Mazda5 (RIP) or the Ford Transit Connect is the perfect family vehicle. All of the utility, none of the pretense.

        • 0 avatar

          Which model CUV will fit a rearward-facing baby seat in the back, behind a passenger seat, and still fit a 6-foot plus adult in front? I don’t think my sister’s CRV would do much better although I did notice that the CRV had a bit more internal space than the Escape when we were shopping for it. But at the time, it was only available with a 2.4l NA engine which was gutless for moving a relatively large vehicle, so we ended up getting the Escape with the EgoBoost engine despite its smaller cargo area.

          I don’t care about the looks of the car, I have a sedan because I got a car with much better acceleration, braking and cornering than what I would get out of a similarly priced CUV/SUV.

          • 0 avatar

            If both parents are over 6′ tall, and the centre rear seat is out of question (more than one child), then you are very limited in your selection of car.

            Pretty much the only class that will work is full-size sedan or larger. Avalon, Impala, Taurus, XTS, Continental, LS460/S-class/7 Series/A8.

            If you’re on a budget and have decided to buy new, you pretty much only have three choices.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh but it can be. I can’t imagine a time the mindless lemmings were actually correct.

  • avatar

    People are just lazy, and not having to lower or raise your body to drive your vehicle is the natural next step. How we got to the point where we can’t open our own windows or close a door without electrical assistane is mystifying to me, but here we are. I hate to think how fat people will be when they don’t even have to move their (power assisted) steering wheel, or hit their (power assisted) brakes. Which manufacturer will be first with a built in fridge and microwave to occupy the masses as they guzzle their meals on the way to and from work?

    • 0 avatar

      Wait until your knees/hips/shoulders/back start going bad before passing judgement of ease of ingress/egress.

    • 0 avatar

      So you stay fit by having manual windows and using your steering wheel? Got it.

    • 0 avatar

      Insufficient self-awareness detected. Signs of aging hit as early as the mid- to late-20s. If I had more than one kid, I would probably be rocking something like a Transit Connect.

      Also, Japanese-brand sedans have atrocious headroom for anyone above 5’10”. Standard sunroofs make it worse.

      • 0 avatar

        If you’re in your 60s or 70s, I’d understand you might be having trouble bending down to get into a sedan. But 40s or 50s? That suggests you’ve either punished your body (eg, you’re professional athlete) or you simply haven’t taken care of it. Personally, I prefer to take care of it so that I can still do things I enjoy, like getting into my sedan and driving the heck out of it.

  • avatar

    I like Toyota a lot, but they seem to keep messing up in the styling department.

    That Camry grill looks unfinished or some sort of project a teenager started but didn’t finish.

    Offerings like the Mazda 6, Fusion, Accord, etc are all way better looking.

  • avatar

    Dumping 400,000 LE’s on the market isn’t very profitable, especially when 25% are headed for rentals/fleet.

    What I want to know is why a 2017 XLE can’t be found anywhere as next to none has been available in northern California or southern NV for about 6 months? Secondly, who’s the idiot that decided 2018 hybrid & XLE 4-cyl Camry’s don’t get NAV as an option?

    As for what the Tacoma did, everything I read overwhelmingly states the new Tacoma is not well received by owners.

  • avatar

    “People want choice…” It’s true, I’m a sucker for those variety beer packs. But I’m always disapointed and really only like one or two styles.

  • avatar

    I don’t see it pulling a Tacoma….That Tacoma is in an exploding segment. Same as the ancient 4runner is seeing sales increases. Just in the right place at the right time despite itself.

    We shall see. I think Toyota, by sticking with NA 4 cylinder and V6 power could really corner the sedan market. Everyone else, now including Honda, has gone turbo 4. Sorry, but even at similar power, the V6 is simply better, and I bet real world fuel economy will likely be similar as well.

    Big car, comfy, no funky engines or transmissions. Get the job done, done well, without inflated ownership costs.

    For the first time in my life, I think if I were to consider a sedan, Toyota would likely now be at the top of my list.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Do auto manufacturers put thought into turbocharged engine power loss in hot weather and the disproportionate percentage of vehicles sold in the hottest months? Could be that most cars have enough engine power and available gear ratios to not feel sluggish during the test drive.

      • 0 avatar

        George B., with direct injection and variable valve timing technologies the temperature has less of an effect today. Those turb-4’s have allot more torque, lower in the operating range. Less rpms means less heat.

        When warmed up the turbo-4 will best any NA V6 in highway fuel economy. Just look at the new Malibu 2.0T and it’s V6 besting 37 mpg gallon highway.

        Plus the cost less head to produce easily offsets the extra plumbing of the turbo.

    • 0 avatar

      “despite itself.”

      No that’s precisely why it’s held in such high regard. An uncompromised old school midsize SUV. I saw more than I could count this past week on the Outer Banks. The current facelifted 5th gens are the best selling 4Runners since the early 2000s as I recall.

  • avatar

    The Toyota Way will work again for the US consumers. This Camry will sell like hot cakes, just like the others but perhaps better. American and Japanese suppliers in NA must be rejoicing despite the suffocating pressure from Toyota.

  • avatar

    Toyota is basically GM of the 60s. Every decision they make is the right one. It is amazing seeing the high spirits at any Toyota dealership, compared to the depressing atmosphere at any GM dealerships. Once Toyota surpasses GM in US market share that will be icing on the cake. Toyota even manages to sell cars in this SUV craved era.

  • avatar

    Maybe the lower car with at least 200 NA horsepower and an improved suspension that gets driven by as many people as any Camry will *can* remind the buying public why sedans are beloved by enthusiasts over CUV’s. Maybe it has a sweet balance of performance, confidence and comfort. Most likely the marketing team got toasted smoking TMC’s internal stash.

  • avatar

    I know midsize sedans are currently in the doldrums, but if I were in the market for one, I think the new Camry would be at the top of my list. Toyota’s winning in the driver assistance tech game in terms of making it standard in every one of their vehicles. Gets 41 mpg in gas, and like 50 in the hybrid – and the hybrid actually seems like it makes sense financially. Maybe they’ll make it with a wagon ass one day.

  • avatar

    ” “I think you’re going to see the entire sedan market pick up,” Hollis told Autoline”

    Sedan…pick up?

    El Camrino?

  • avatar

    I’m certainly in the minority, but I’d never buy a car now that didn’t have Apple Car Play. My wife’s Highlander is a disaster to use for navi and integrating outside device music use. Whereas my Honda Accord is an absolute breeze to use via Apple Car Play. Toyota’s refusal to incorporate ACP and/or the Android version is a total deal breaker for me.

  • avatar

    Not every “older” person in America wants or desires an SUV. My mother (going on 73 this year) steadfastly sticks to sedans. For the last three decades, she owned exclusively Toyota products. In 2012, she broke tradition and bought a Verano (after I showed her one). The size and general blah-styling of the Camry at that time turned her off, as did the relative cheapness of the Corolla (she’s owned iterations of both in the past). She wanted something smaller and with a touch of class, which she believes she found in the Verano. If she were in the market today, it’d be for another sedan, but I think the front end styling would be off-putting to her, as it’s just a bit, um, too much. I applaud Toyota for trying to inject some life into the market segment, and I do believe they will do well with the Camry, as they mostly have since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I guess “big gaping mouth” sells these days.

  • avatar

    Manual transmission option?

  • avatar

    “We expect to see a new Nissan Altima shortly thereafter.”

    OK, I know I’m slightly off-topic in saying this, but didn’t we *JUST* have a refreshed Altima like within the last year or two?! Nobody needs a refreshed *Altima* (of all things) every 3 years.

    That said, I’m definitely looking forward to the new Camry but we’ll wait and see how the newly-designed engine an transmission hold up.

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