This story has been updated with a statement from Toyota.
Everybody’s buying crossovers, sport-utilities and trucks these days, but officials within Toyota’s North American operations consistently maintain the company is happy to remain one of the top producers of sedans — but it’s cutting the Avalon from its line-up after the 2022 model year.
“Effective following the production of the 2022 model year, Toyota will discontinue production of the Avalon,” the company said in a statement sent to TheDetroitBureau.com. “Originally introduced as Toyota’s flagship sedan in 1994, Avalon has a reputation for offering the comfort, quality, and safety customers expect from a large car.
“While Avalon will be discontinued after the 2022 model year, Toyota remains committed to the sedan segment and we encourage customers to stay tuned for future developments. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky production capacity and employment will not be impacted.”
The move, first reported by Automotive News, was outlined in a letter to suppliers. The sedan is built at Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. It will leave the company with four sedans, one of which is the Mirai, the company’s fuel-cell model that sells in very low volume right now.
The Avalon is the Japanese brand’s largest offering in the segment. Refreshed in 2019 and due for an update next year, the fifth-generation model is selling well this year, up 36.6% through the first six months of the year. However, of the five sedans in the company’s line-up, it was the laggard, trailing Camry, Corolla and Prius.
In fact, the Prius sold 28,000 more units through June than the Avalon. However, it did outperform one four-door model: the aforementioned Mirai. However, the fuel-cell sedan — by percentages — smoked the Avalon, seeing a 664.1% jump in first-half sales.
We like sedans
Last week, Toyota’s U.S. sales chief Bob Carter reiterated the company’s commitment to the segment during an online meeting with reporters.
“As a company — both Toyota and Lexus — we sold nearly 70,000 sedans last month,” he said. “Compare that to the other companies out there, that’s a very dominant number. There are consumers out there, even at 20% of the industry we’re looking at 4, 4.25 million sales out there so there is a market.”
Carter conceded the profits may be lower on those vehicles, but “it is a profitable business for us.” However, it’s the large car segment that may be suffering the most in the sedan market, and the Avalon was also a laggard there too, outselling only the Nissan Maxima in the first half of the year. Plus, the top sellers in the very small segment are essentially muscle cars: the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300C.