Full-size Sedan Faithful, Take Heart - Fifth-gen Toyota Avalon Due Next Year; Toyota Says "We're Committed"
U.S. sales of full-size, volume-brand sedans fell 17 percent in the first seven months of 2017, a sharp drop following noteworthy declines in each of the last three years. Despite the growth the market has seen since the auto industry’s collapse in 2009, big sedans have lost 37 percent of their U.S. sales volume over the last four years.
Compared with 2013, that’s 18,000 fewer sales for the segment every month. Even compared with 2016, that’s 6,500 fewer sales every month.
In what was historically a fleet-dependent corner of the passenger-car market, many automakers’ reduced emphasis on sales to daily rental companies plays a major role. Numerous players in the segment also attempted to move upmarket, further away from the midsize cars that now offer the requisite interior volume. It hasn’t turned out so well for some. Remember the Mitsubishi Diamante and Mercury Montego? We’ll soon forget the discontinued Hyundai Azera. The Ford Taurus is likely not long for this market, either.
Yet in a market that’s lost 17 percent of its sales this year, the Toyota Avalon has shed 28 percent of its year-to-date volume, a loss of 7,475 sales. With an all-new 2018 Camry set to generate more than its fair share of Toyota sedan sales, does the Avalon even deserve a place in Toyota’s 2018 lineup?
Indeed it does, as Toyota will launch the fifth-generation, TNGA-based Avalon in 2018. “We’re committed to Avalon,” says Toyota North America’s executive vice president for sales, Bob Carter.
– Bob Carter, Executive Vice President, Toyota North America
37 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States in the first seven months of 2017 were passenger cars. That’s correct. 63 percent of the new vehicles now sold in America are pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and vans.
But how did we get to this 37-percent basement? When did we get here? How long did it take to get here? And is it really the basement?
Will the Toyota RAV4 outsell Toyota’s long-running best-selling car, the Toyota Camry, within the next five years? Nine months ago, Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. boss, Bob Carter, said, “I’ll bet you lunch that will happen.”
It didn’t take five years.
To be fair, Carter wasn’t referring to a single month’s results. Indeed, through the first two-thirds of 2016, the Camry produced nearly 36,000 more U.S. sales — about one month’s worth — than the RAV4.
But in August 2016, for the first time in Toyota’s U.S. history, the Toyota RAV4 was more popular than the Toyota Camry. And the RAV4 was by no means the only vehicle to outsell the most popular car in America.
Executives at Toyota say they expect extraordinary car sales to continue for two more years — although they may not be record-breaking years — before the industry finally slows from its current pace, Bloomberg reported (via Detroit News).
Low gas prices and a better economy will lead automakers to nearly 18 million car sales this year, which could surpass the previous record of 17.4 million set in 2000.
Next year may not be as good as this year, according to Bob Carter, senior vice president of operations for Toyota in the U.S., but it could be close. Even at 17.4 million sales for 2016, industry-wide, “you’re still going to see a smile on all of our faces,” he told Bloomberg.
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