Unlike some of its major rivals, Toyota isn’t ready to give up on the passenger car market. If anything they are getting new models ready that are expected to build on the company strong position in car side of the business, Toyota officials said this week as they showed off two new models during a press preview in Southern California this week.
“We’re still very, very bullish on the passenger cars,” said Ed Laukes, group vice president of marketing for the Toyota Division during the preview, which highlighted the 2019 Toyota Avalon and 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback. The Avalon goes on sales later this spring and the Corolla hatchback will appear later this year.
Last week, General Motors announced it was takings its big passenger-car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, down to one shift at the end of June because of the falling demand for compact cars.
Lauckes noted in March, the new Toyota Camry actually outsold the RAV4, the compact crossover that officially is Toyota’s best-selling vehicle.
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“I don’t think we’re going to get back to 50 to 50 right away,” said Lauckes as he acknowledged that 65 of the light-duty vehicles sold in the United States are pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles or crossovers.
“But there is still some passion around cars,” he said.
The 2018 Camry, which made its debut last year, has been a major success for Toyota, he added. Toyota believes the all new Avalon with its long list of convenience, safety and technological features is a vehicle that can follow up on Camry’s success by attracting younger buyers, Lauckes said.
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But new Avalon was also designed to retain its traditional appeal to older customers, he said.
“The Corolla is the number one selling vehicle of all time,” Lauckes said. The new Corolla Hatchback with its new hatchback and features such as Apple CarPlay and Amazon’s Alexa build on that heritage, he said.
It also has more safety equipment and a will be sold with either a new automatic CVT or a six-speed manual transmission for buyers looking for a car that is fun to drive.
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In addition, the hatchback segment overall has been re-invigorated recently with entry of the new Honda Civic hatchback and Hyundai Elantra GT and Ford Focus hatchback, Toyota officials noted.