America's Favorite Sedan to Take a Boat Trip
The Toyota Camry holds the remarkable distinction of being a midsize sedan with U.S. sales that actually increased over the first five months of 2018. Impossible, you say. It can’t be. You’d trade your kids for a crossover, but wouldn’t stoop to pick up a “free sedan” voucher if you passed one on the sidewalk.
Well, it’s true. Year to date, Camry sales are up 2.1 percent in the United States. Last year’s introduction of an eight-generation midsizer seemed to halt the sedan’s sales decline, though we’d be fools to think it’s anything other than a temporary lift. Camry volume sunk 7.9 percent in May. June could send the model into the negative.
Toyota seems aware of this, too. Maybe that’s behind the decision to send the Camry somewhere it hasn’t been in years.
According to Automotive News Europe, the fine citizens of the Old World will soon get a chance to do something their neighbors (including Russia) take for granted: Drive a Camry. Well, rent one, perhaps.
Toyota has announced plans to reintroduce the Camry in the European market, where its market space was occupied by the midsize, though slightly smaller, Avensis sedan. With that model ceasing production, Toyota sees an opportunity to expand the Camry’s reach, though not all trims will find their way to the continent.
Given Europe’s stringent emissions laws, only the hybrid version — of which North Americans enjoy many flavors — will arrive to take the Avensis’ place. The automaker feels the model’s enlarged size and gas-sipping four-cylinder/electric motor/CVT combo should offer broader appeal than the outgoing Avensis, sales of which slipped severely in recent years. The Avensis never offered a hybrid.
“Its main purpose is for fleet customers,” a company spokesman told Automotive News Europe. “Its rivals will be the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Passat, but it also has the potential to compete a bit more in the premium market, for example against the Audi A4.”
Production won’t take place locally, however. While the Avensis called the UK its birthplace, European Camrys will now arrive from Japan. The model’s suspension settings reportedly stand to receive tweaks for high-speed motoring.
In Russia, where Toyota operates an assembly plant, the changeover to the current generation model has only just begun. North Americans saw their first new Camrys last September. The last new Camry sold in Europe left the showroom in 2004, when Toyota pulled the model due to declining sales.
[Image: Steph Willems/TTAC, Toyota]
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