By on July 12, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry Georgetown Kentucky assembly line - Image: ToyotaAs 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.2018 Toyota Camry white - Image: ToyotaYet 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 and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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29 Comments on “Toyota Sees All Upside for 2018 Camry If Rivals Decide to Focus Purely on SUVs...”

  • avatar

    Tighten up suspension (probably will happen if the Camry TNGA news is true). Keep the NA I4 and V6. Sales will not be a problem.

    • 0 avatar

      How much more can they “tighten up” the suspension from the XSE? And who the heck would even want that? It’s already quite a competent handler in those trims, see our own Jack Baruth’s track impressions of an older SE.

      • 0 avatar

        “And who the heck would even want that?”

        Me? Maybe.

        I’m hoping the Camry V6 has a trim that can compete with the Regal GS and TLX (whether that be the XSE or a TRD).

  • avatar

    If they ax the Avalon, I hope they expand the Camry feature list to include memory seating, factory remote-start, and other goodies which are available in most other cars in the class, at least in the top trims, particularly with the ~$3,500 premium they’re asking for the V6s.

    (As I may have stated on here, I can almost see Toyota using that premium as a justification to kill the V6 in the future, on “lack of demand,” even as soon as the Camry’s mid-cycle refresh in a few years.)

  • avatar

    The new Honda Accord may have something to say about this, although I suspect a few Honda buyers will defect to Toyota for the V6. However, that V6 price bump is a pretty big delta. I look for plenty of Accord vs Camry reviews to be all over the internet during September and October.

  • avatar

    the proclamation of a sedan death watch is and will remain clickbait. people tried it with minivans, and they still live to this day. good luck starving authors.

    • 0 avatar

      I think this is a legitimate probability. Look at what happened to the domestics in the 1990’s. So much focus on trucks and SUV’s that they became truck companies that happened to sell a few cars. Exhibit A is the Chevy SSR “Lets try to sell sport trucks” …because, more trucks!

      Right now automakers are falling all over themselves to get more crossovers to market, for good reason I suppose. This massive market shift is bound to result in less focus, R&D, later refreshes, longer product cycles for midsized sedans. Probably even result in the death of a few marginal models (regrettably the Mazda6 comes to mind, Chrysler 200 already a casualty). Large mainstream sedans like Impala, Taurus, Avalon, Maxima may become totally extinct. If you cannot sell it in any meaningful volume without massive piles of cash on the hood, it wont last.

      So as another poster mentioned, like minivans, the players may become fewer, those with the ability to focus and still put out great product at high volume will survive and thrive.

      • 0 avatar

        SSR was simply a product cooked up to give the Reatta Craft centre something to build after Eldorado went away.

        • 0 avatar

          They could have built something nice, sporty. Any number of vehicles could have filled that slot. Instead they made the SSR. A case of truck fever, at least in my opinion.

          • 0 avatar

            The SSR was a bad joke for sure. They could have advanced the Camaro starting with low volume production.

            I always remember the goofy pics of Ren Cen Rick tooling along at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

  • avatar

    Keep dreaming Toyota. The only thing Toyota will be propping up is the high end sales of competing vehicles because Toyota was stupid to make NAV unavailable on XLE hybrid & XLE 4-cyl 2018 Camry’s.

    • 0 avatar

      That is an interesting view. I have been of the opinion, at least for the last few years that with large smartphones and navigation apps that factory installed NAV in cars would basically become like a cassette player. Sure, there are still some people who might want one, but you don’t need it anymore. You can buy a top of the line laptop, several iphones, Pixel Phones, etc for the same price. They go with you everywhere, do much more than just navigate. Time marches on.

    • 0 avatar

      I think far fewer people care about built-in factory nav than you think. Just about everyone I know uses their phone. I understand that you prefer not to, but I think you’re in a small group that gets smaller every year.

      Too expensive up front, nobody wants to pay to update the maps. It’s like building a desktop computer into the wall of your house. Soon obsolete, too difficult to upgrade or replace.

      I’ll use my phone either standalone or mirroed on a car screen, thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Navigation is included on every single Camry model, it’s just that the lower end models use the stupid Scout GPS software that requires your phone to do some of the heavy lifting.

      The lack of Carplay and Android Auto is the only real negative, but Toyota seems to have thrown in a lot of freebies to try and counteract that. But honestly, a phone mount largely gives you the same experience on android anyway.

  • avatar

    Camry will sell even if the name is put on a 53 Desoto. The problem is the new Camry is following the current midsize sedan styling trend. Designed to get a high EPA highway rating. The lower roof means either less headroom or sitting on the pavement. Neither of these is what a traditional sedan is suppose to be. Yeah they will sell to the lemmings but many will go for more a comfortable sitting arrangement. Its no surprise that the traditional sedan is now a four door pickup.

    • 0 avatar

      Height of Camry – 56.9 inches. Height of crown Vic – 56.8 inches.

      Look at the first picture – it’s not that cars are getting lower, its that people’s ability to lower their overweight bodies is getting worse.

      • 0 avatar

        Agree, even though they have nothing to haul or tow, some people need that 1/2 ton truck to haul their fat a$$es around.

        • 0 avatar

          I remember 20+ yrs ago when most everybody at those Japanese transplants looked like a triathlete. In that pic above, they look like UAW types now. Without the typical union logo wear of course.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s still 1 1/2 inch lower than it use to be. You cannot change the fact that world wide people are getting heavier and older. The overweight scale does not take into account whether you have denser bones, longer torso or a big ass. Its just height vs what THEY think is the correct weight.

    • 0 avatar

      I will be first in line to buy a 1953 DeSoto built by Toyota.

    • 0 avatar

      But the people who care about sitting at a height where they don’t need to sit down into the car and stand up out of it are already buying CUVs anyway. This approach at least gives the car some advantage instead of it just being an inferior CUV.

  • avatar

    “The new Honda Accord may have something to say about this, although I suspect a few Honda buyers will defect to Toyota for the V6.”

    This may or may not be true. People buying Toyota and Honda sedans while not gearheads are still pretty knowledgeable about what they are getting. One of the things these customers look at is reliability history and they are unlikely to buy new engine/drive-train in the first couple of years of production.

    Honda’s move to a new engine/transmission set for the Accord may put off buyers until reliability of this platform is proven (probably 3-5 years of data).

    Maybe Honda will have such confidence in their product that they will offer 100K/10 year entire drive-train warrantee (including induction system) on the new Accord. That might make me interested if it burned 87 octane.

  • avatar

    Toyota needs a slightly raised version of this new Camry…a new Venza. Hip point may be too low with this car for some.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Considering Toyota sells the RAV4 at a premium compared to equivalent trim Camrys, I’d rather they just give the RAV the Camry’s interior quality, refinement, and engine options, as Ford does with the Escape relative to the Fusion. No reason for the RAV to feel as cheap as it does at those prices.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s some rumors about no Avalon, give the new Camry the 10 way power driver’s seat from the Avalon upper trim levels. Toyota could keep some Avalon customers that way if they decide a new Avalon isn’t worth the effort.

      My Highlander lacks thigh support – I assume that they are more or less the same seats as a Camry of that vintage.

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