Toyota Motor is planning a flurry of new model introductions for the rest of this year and next, and one of the most important of them is the eighth-generation Camry which today came down the line at the company’s Georgetown plant in Kentucky.
The new 2012 Camry will go on sale later this year – not a moment too soon for the Canadian market. Through the first half of this year, Camry sales in Canada were down 38.8 per cent. Sales of the Camry and many other Toyota models have been blunted by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. According to Automotive News, in North America, Toyota, Honda and Subaru have cut production by 468,962 units between March and August because of parts shortages from quake-hit suppliers.
At the same time, Toyota and other Japanese auto makers have been faced with renewed competition across the board – from car companies based in South Korea (Hyundai and Kia), to North America (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler) and Europe (Volkswagen, in particular).
In an effort to reclaim lost market share, Ray Tanguay, head of Toyota's North American manufacturing operations, told Automotive News that Toyota’s plants will run at 110 per cent of capacity through September. Through the end of July, Toyota brand sales in Canada were off 15.9 per cent, while sales at the Lexus luxury brand were down 13.4 per cent, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
Both the Toyota and Lexus brands will be bolstered by the arrival of new versions of top sellers. By the 2013 model year, Toyota will sell reinvented versions of not just the Camry, but also the Yaris subcompact and the RAV4 crossover utility vehicle. At Lexus, the GS, ES, IS and LS sedans are all expected to be either redesigned or re-engineered or both by the spring of 2013.
The new Camry hints at the philosophy underpinning Toyota’s revival through new models. Interestingly, while new mid-size entries such as the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima have gone in a radical design direction, the styling of the 2012 Camry remains somewhat subdued.
“They're not re-inventing the Camry with this design,” Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting for J.D. Power and Associates, told The Detroit News. “Clearly, the new Camry is evolutionary.”
In Canada, Toyota will offer three enhanced power trains: a revised 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine (178 horsepower, an increase of nine hp); a 3.5-litre V-6 (268 hp); and a new Camry Hybrid with a “highly revised” version of the Hybrid Synergy Drive power train, including a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine.
The basic four-cylinder Camry will have fuel efficiency rated at 8.2 litres/100 km city, 5.6 litres/100 km highway and 7.0 litres/100 km combined. Projected fuel efficiency for the V-6: 9.7 litres/100 km city, 6.4 litres/100 km highway and 8.2L/100 km. Toyota says the combined is the best for any current V-6 mid-size sedan. Toyota has not provided fuel economy numbers for the new Camry Hybrid.
Expect Toyota Canada to ramp up the Camry hype as the on-sale date approaches in just a few weeks’ time.