Toyota is planning to add the all-new Toyota Highlander to its line-up to its portfolio of core products.
The automaker unveiled the 2020 Highlander at the New York Auto Show last spring and it is ready for sale by the end of the year, giving the Toyota a shot in the arm just as the introduction of an all-new RAV4 did, according to Jack Hollis, the Toyota Motor North America vice president in charge of the Toyota brand.
Highlander sales have been very strong this year even though the new version was waiting just over the horizon, Hollis said during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The new Highlander will shore up the company’s position in the critical midsized SUV segment and complement the RAV4, which has become Toyota’s best-selling vehicle.
During the past six years, sales of the RAV4 have grown from 200,000 to 430,000 units, Hollis noted, and the introduction of the 2021 plug-in hybrid, which was unveiled at the LA Show, will serve to extend the popularity of RAV4 name plate.
The introduction of the RAV4 plug-in hybrid also burnishes Toyota’s environmental credentials, which were dirtied up a bit when the automaker joined GM in supporting the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal California’s authority to set its own rules covering fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions.
“We’re in favor of one national standard,” Hollis said. “We’re not siding with anyone.”
Hollis added Toyota is very proud of its environmental record, having sold, by far, more electrified vehicles than any other automaker. Consumers understand that, he said.
Vehicles such as the RAV4 plug-in hybrid only enhance the company’s environmental credentials.
At the same time, Toyota plans to continue to bolster its passenger car business by offering an all-wheel-drive Toyota Camry. “We’re definitely not giving up on the passenger car market,” said Hollis. “It’s still a huge market. More than 5 million units.”
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Hollis also said he is optimistic about the outlook for 2020. The unemployment rate remains low as the economy adds new jobs and consumer confidence is up and interest rates are low, making it easier for buyers to finance their vehicles.
Sales might drop slightly but overall sales industry-wide sales should remain steady at around 17 million units, Hollis said.