Toyota Sees All Upside for 2018 Camry If Rivals Decide to Focus Purely on SUVs
As Toyota watches its RAV4 quickly climb sales charts, the Japanese behemoth estimates it will sell fewer copies of its new-for-2018 eighth-generation Camry than it has in six years.
According to Reuters, Toyota is targeting 30,000 monthly Camry sales in the U.S. once the 2018 model fully takes over. That’s 360,000 Camry sales per year, well below the 412,000-unit average Toyota has managed over the last half-decade; 7-percent below last year’s output.
Toyota considers the thought of overall midsize sedan demise “inconceivable” but is by no means blind to the segment’s evolution. Recent deaths, such as the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, followed the disappearance of the Mitsubishi Galant, Suzuki Kizashi, and domestic nameplate removals, as well. Remember the Mercury Milan, Pontiac G6, and Saturn Aura?
But as the midsize segment struggles, Toyota looks down from its lofty perch and sees the odds increasingly turning in the Camry’s favor. “If other automakers left the sedan market to focus more on SUVs,” Camry chief engineer Masato Katsumata says, “that would be an opportunity to expand our market share of the segment.”
Clearly, Toyota is aware of the possibility of further contraction. Indeed, Toyota has already benefited greatly from the midsize segment’s gradual model reduction.
Before the new Camry even launches, the aged existing Camry has seen major market share improvements.
Toyota owned 17 percent of America’s midsize car segment in 2013. That figure jumped to 17.7 percent in 2014 and 18.0 percent in 2015. After a modest rise in early 2016, Toyota owns 19.5 percent of America’s midsize segment in 2017.
Essentially, one out of every five midsize sedan buyers is choosing a Camry.
Yet out of the goodness of its heart, Toyota is operating under the assumption that, rather than causing lower-tier midsize nameplates such as the Volkswagen Passat, Mazda 6, and Subaru Legacy to disappear, the new Camry can boost the entire sector.
“We want the new Camry to rehabilitate the segment,” says Toyota’s midsize vehicle boss Moritaka Yoshida.
Rehabilitate. As if its competitors can’t pull up their own bootstraps, so Toyota will mercifully reach down into the pit of despair and offer a helping hand to the Hyundai Sonata as the Mazda 6 grasps the Sonata’s ankle, fingernails slowly losing a grip.
But if Toyota’s assumption is incorrect (or disingenuous), and if the launch of an all-new Camry doesn’t rehabilitate the segment, and if Camry competitors choose to give up their noble sedan fight, Toyota’s ready to step in.
Toyota says the Camry is a beautiful monster. From a market share perspective, they’ve got the monster part right.
[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]
Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.
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Toyota needs a slightly raised version of this new Camry...a new Venza. Hip point may be too low with this car for some.
The Toyota Camry is still considered an old person's car and it still looks it. I'd consider the newer Camry, though, as it does look somewhat nice and sounds to be a good cruiser for those that do lots of mileage on their vehicles like I do. It needs to do some things Better like add some lumbar support and a better entertainment system.