As part of a strategy to give the North American market as much autonomy as possible, Toyota will soon cease importing Camry sedans from Japan, relying solely on two U.S. plants to provide more than a third of a million copies of the midsize model annually.
The move roughly coincides with the upcoming launch of the 2012 Toyota Camry. Though it is only one of about 10 new products the maker is launching in the months ahead the remake may be considered both the most important and the most challenging.
The Camry has long dominated the American sales charts, grabbing the top spot among passenger cars for the last 9 years running and 13 of the last 14 years. But in recent months, as Toyota – like many of its Japanese rivals – has struggled with product shortages triggered by that country’s devastating March earthquake and tsunami – the Camry has fallen behind the Chevrolet Cruze and will have a battle ahead to hold onto its crown for all of 2011.
The shift to a fully U.S. production base comes as Toyota’s North American operations gain increasing autonomy. But the move also reflects the devastating impact of the strong yen, which has slashed Toyota’s profit margins.