Toyota Prepared to Drop the Blade, but Which Models Will Get the Chop?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
toyota prepared to drop the blade but which models will get the chop

Toyota isn’t immune from the light truck epidemic sweeping the globe; certainly not in North America. In October, the automaker saw light truck sales across both of its divisions rise 6.8 percent, year over year, in the United States, offsetting an 7.2 percent drop in passenger car sales. Tally that volume up over the first 10 months of 2018 and the picture’s even more stark. Year to date, trucks are up 7.7 percent, cars are down 11.1 percent.

The automaker’s North American CEO admits it’s looking at passenger car candidates for execution.

Speaking to Automotive News, Jim Lentz reiterated Toyota’s stance that cars still have a place in the North American lineup, but admitted some might have to go.

“We are taking a hard look at all of the segments that we compete in to make sure we are competing in profitable segments and that products we sell have strategic value,” Lentz said, shortly after T the release of Toyota’s quarterly earnings report. Operating profit rose 11 percent in the last fiscal quarter (to $5.09 billion), helped by growing truck sales and company-wide efficiency initiatives.

Claiming that Toyota has no intention of pulling a Ford, Lentz said models in certain segments are under consideration for discontinuation — a group that includes coupes.

Taking a gander at Toyota’s diverse lineup, there’s a few bright spots to be found in its passenger car offerings. Camry sales rose 4 percent, year over year, in October, and the Corolla line and Avalon enjoy year-to-date volume increases. There’s also wind in the redesigned Lexus LS and ES’ sails. However, there’s no shortage of models pinning the throttle on the road to irrelevancy.

Sales of the subcompact Yaris hatch are practically nonexistent, down 79.4 percent since the start of the year. According to AN‘s product pipeline, it’s not due for an overhaul until 2021. Meanwhile, an imperceptibly refreshed (and renamed) Yaris Sedan — the rebadged Mazda that already collects the lion’s share of Yaris volume — appears for 2019.

While the 86 2+2 sports coupe never sold in great numbers (sales fell 40.4 percent through October), Toyota needs that model as a youthful attention grabber. Its PR value can’t be discounted. At Lexus, however, two pricier coupes exist, and only one verges on supercar status. The LC is both a prestige model and technological showpiece, commanding prices near the six-figure mark, but the seldom-thought-of RC, introduced for 2015, doesn’t have the same cachet. October RC sales weren’t even double that of the far pricier LC, and volume over the first 10 months of the year was down 52.1 percent. Last year’s RC tally was half of what the rear-drive coupe enjoyed in its first full year on the market, just two years prior.

For some time, the once-mighty GS sedan (remember those “Something Wicked This Way Comes” ads from the late ’90s?) has been considered the most likely candidate for the gallows, and there’s nothing coming out of Toyota to change anyone’s mind on the matter. While the model does return for 2019, there’s not a breath of word on a refresh or redesign. Sales are a small fraction of that of the IS and ES.

[Image: Toyota Motor Corp.]

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  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Nov 06, 2018

    As a V8 GS driver, I will cry real tears when they quit making this car. No, it was never as sporty as a BMW, nor had the cache of a Benz. But the GS offered near LS luxury and absolutely LS quality and reliability at a comparative steal. I bought my 2000 GS in 2009 for $13,000CAD from $67,000 list price. It is literally the best 'thing' I have ever bought. Stone reliable, plenty fast enough, and just doesn't age. I think Lexus big mistake with the GS was making the V8 part of the crazy expensive GSF package. It should have simply been an optional engine in the F-Sport model.

  • FWD Donuts FWD Donuts on Nov 06, 2018

    They're cutting back on marketing as well. Sponsored a couple of NHRA events this year and won't be coming back.

  • RHD Inexpensive gasoline appears to be a thing of the past. ILO is correct - we have enough sunlight, wind and emerging ocean wave energy to power the entire country and then some. Clean air is nice, and being free of the whims of OPEC, geopolitics and hugely profitable oil companies will do all of us a world of good.
  • Raymond Segura Can you tell me where I can get the rear bumper for 69 impala?
  • Art Vandelay some of the crazy numbers I get. Percentages look bigger with any fluctuations with low volume makes and brands leaving the market will see massive month over month changes. But what’s with Buick? I still see the occasional ad on TV and yet the drop is disproportionate even compared to all the other GM brands.
  • Master Baiter "There is no mandate for consumers to buy EVs, not in any country or state. That’s made up."Right. And you are not mandated to purchase a toilet that only uses 1.6 gallons/flush. You could choose to not have a toilet--just go in the woods, like the bears do.
  • Inside Looking Out I did not get how Daewoo pops up from nowhere. It never was mentioned before.