By on November 16, 2018

Image: Toyota

The best-selling passenger car in America for the past 15 years isn’t selling like it once was, and it’s all your fault. With the car-buying populace increasingly wooed by do-everything crossovers and trucks, the Toyota Camry isn’t flying off dealer lots in the same volume as before, and, because of this, the automaker has made the decision to slow production of the mighty midsizer.

What are people buying instead of the Camry? A lot of things, but loyal Toyota owners are increasingly heading over to the RAV4 for their grocery-getting duties.

In terms of volume, the Camry closed out last year as the country’s seventh-best selling vehicle, helped along by a 2018 model-year restyle that lifted sales towards the end of the calendar. That buoyancy didn’t last, though it did help propel the sedan well ahead of its chief rival — the equally refreshed Honda Accord.

As we documented over the long, hot summer, Camry sales began falling below last year’s monthly totals in early 2018 until the year-to-date tally finally fell into the red. Yes, July was a sad month for the Camry, and the continued exodus of buyers from the segment ensured that assembly lines would soon slow.

2018 Toyota Camry LE - Image: Toyota

According to Automotive News, Toyota plans to throttle back one of the Camry’s three production lines in Georgetown, Kentucky, starting next month. Without going into specific numbers, company spokesman Rick Hesterberg said, “The auto industry is cyclical, and our normal process is to proactively plan months in advance for volume adjustments.”

Vehicle sales do take a dive in the winter, but the slow decline in Camry volume isn’t weather-related. While Camry sales saw a year-over-year uptick of 2.5 percent in October, the nameplate fell 6.1 percent over the first 10 months of the year. Across Toyota’s passenger car lineup, overall sales fell 11 percent in 2018. Trucks and SUV sales, on the other hand, rose 8.5 percent this year.

The loss of sales isn’t likely to hurt the Camry’s standing as the best-selling midsize car (Nissan would love for the new-for-2019 Altima to overtake it, and Honda would sure like a crack), though it does stand to fall further in the overall best-selling rankings. It also risks losing its status as the best-selling car. The difference between TYD Camry and Honda Civic volume is a scant 12,000 units.

With 289,801 sales under its belt through the end of October, the Camry was eclipsed by sales of its compact crossover stablemate, the RAV4. That model moved 353,151 units in the U.S. over the same time frame. Even with a next-generation model waiting in the wings (we’ll have a first drive for you soon), the RAV4 still managed to eke out a 2 percent year-to-date sales gain.

[Images: Toyota]

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23 Comments on “Sad! Toyota Throttles Back on the Camry...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    Fleet sales can’t take up the Camry slack anymore. Take out fleet sales and the Camry rarely was the best selling car.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hurry snatch up that Camry TRD and see you at Barrett-Jackson in 2040!/s

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Sad for who? Camry, like a lot of good standard sedans have had a great run, but people’s tastes change and they move on. Hey, even Ford eventually stopped making the Model “T” after selling 15 MILLION of them

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “people’s tastes change”

      I was trying to park in residential city block another day. And I couldn’t find a spot 3 blocks either way. There were couple but my Highlander wouldn’t fit. And then I noticed something – practically all vehicles parked along one way street were cars! and not SUVs. And it looks like I know why. They fit into small spaces better!

  • avatar
    4drSedan

    The Accord would far surpass Camry sales if the Accord weren’t so fugly. I’m hoping for an emergency model refresh like Honda did with the Civic a few years back. I drove a 2019 Accord Sport 2.0. It may be the best car I’ve ever driven. I just can’t imagine going out to the garage every day seeing that abomination knowing it’s mine. BTW, there’s still room in the sedan market for the top contenders.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      When you’re on the inside you don’t have to look at its face.

      (wink wink, nudge nudge)

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Styling is way down on my list. It is the machine underneath that I consider. That said I’d love it if my 16 Prius wore the Accord’s exterior styling, as ugly as I consider the Accord to be. Japan’s big three are turning out some really scary designs as of late. There are exceptions. The current Insight is quite attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I don’t have much of an opinion on the Accord’s appearance, but it’s off my shopping list for the first time in decades because of its lack of a naturally aspirated engine option.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly why I did not even consider Accord when was recently shopping for the new car – just cannot imagine it in my garage. Instead I bought Fusion yet again but this time with AWD.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Why the surprise? Sedans suck, no utility, boring, can’t hop a curb, etc. At least make them hatchbacks.

    40-series tires don’t help their cause. That doesn’t make them sports cars.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “do-everything”

    You misspelled do nothing.

  • avatar
    gtem

    My cousin in Moscow just scooped up a new XV70 body Camry for chauffeur work (think Town-car type VIP transport), in what looks like XLE-equivalent trim. My understanding is that some of the rest of the world got the old port injected 2.5+6A drivetrain instead of the DI+8A we get here in the States. Will be curious to hear his impressions and how it holds up. My own impressions of rental ’18s in 4cyl SE and LE spec left me less than dazzled.

    • 0 avatar
      MatadorX

      100% agree gtem. I can’t tell you how horrified I was by a 2018 SE 1000 mile road trip rental vs the 2017 SE 2.5 we used to rent. The level of vibration off the line, terrible cruise control interface, lack of power etc. Just such a step back.

      Our 2000 LE V6 manual may not be the high point for Camry, but it’s worlds better than the junk they are peddling now. And unfortunately the 92-93 are illegal here in California at this point, as they can’t pass emissions (32ppm HC in a 26 yr old car with 1 cat and a v6, good luck). Gotta stick to 2000 and up so they don’t have to get the sniffer.

      FYI, they may not be able to sell this thing now, but that doesn’t stop every SoCal dealer from refusing to move on price for the XSE v6, which is probably the only adequate power train this thing comes with. Sad you can’t do CE/LE V6 like the days of old, you gotta step up to the 40k XLE/XSE to get a decent engine. At that point hello J-VIN CPO GS350 F Sport

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        That’s a really rare Camry you have MatadorX, I’m rather jealous. That 1MZ must really sing when hooked up to a stick shift! Can you imagine what it’d be like with the TRD supercharger sitting on top? Supercharger or not, I’m willing to bet that Camry would walk my 5spd 2.8L A4 pretty good in dry conditions.

  • avatar
    scathma

    “The difference between TYD Camry and Honda Civic volume is a scant 12,000 units.”

    YTD or is this their new Toyota Yawning Development branch?

  • avatar
    brn

    So Ford was just ahead of the curve?

  • avatar
    RHD

    The grille and front end of the red Camry pictured above is much better looking than the blue one. That Baleen Whale strainer has gotta be part of the reason for falling sales.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Seems reasonable to attempt to match supply and demand – instead of abruptly abandoning the entire sedan market – as if sales were zero. At some point, the same may have to be done with pickups and S/CUVs (unless carmakers believe that absolutely every single buyer will be purchasing F150s).

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