It’s been rumored for months and now it’s official. The Japanese automaker is updating the Toyota Camry for next year and will use the media glare of the New York Motor Show next month for introducing its latest midsize sedan. Furthermore, the automaker says the mid-life redesign for its mid-sized staple both here and overseas – it is built in a number of countries around the world – will challenge conventional expectations of a mid-cycle model change”. Internally, the vehicle is known as Big Minor Change Camry. Beck Angel, Media and External Affairs Manager at Toyota Australia said today that we can expect to see the redesigned family favorite on sale here sometime in 2015, although she could not be more specific about timing.
It’s unusual for an automaker to use a prime slot during press previews at a major auto show to only pitch a redesigned model. But the 2015 Toyota Camry — last redesigned for 2012 model year — has been the best-selling American vehicle for 12 years. And its grip on the top spot — and in one of the industry’s key segments — has slipped. Midsized sedan sales rose just 1% in 2013 and are off 11% in 2014 through February. The Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Kia Optima, Mazda 6 and Ford Fusion gained ground on the Camry last year. And the Altima edged the Camry in American sales in the initial two months of 2014. Camry sales in U.S. have topped the 400,000 mark in each of the last two years, and Bob Carter, Head of Automotive Operations for Toyota Motor Sales, has vowed it will remain the top-selling car of the company this year.
After two months of chilled sales, the Japanese automaker this week said its March retail deliveries in the U.S. are running 4% above March 2013, in part, because of “strong momentum for Camry.” It is unclear what changes Toyota will make to the engine or whether it will retain its current specification levels of Atara, Hybrid and Altise; however this should become clear closer to its local launch. The Aurion, Camry-based V6 saloon, which went on sale in April 2012, is also set for a redesign at some point after Camry, but it is likely to be a cheaper update than its donor car. The company announced in February 2014 that it would close its Altona production facility in 2017, following similar announcements from fellow local automakers Ford and Holden last year.
When announcing the closure, Max Yasuda, President at Toyota Australia confirmed the upgraded Camry would be the last vehicle down the production line at the Altona facility before it shuts its doors. As a result of the decision, the major redesign vehicle, otherwise known as Big Minor Change Camry will be the last car we produce in the plant. He said at a press conference on the day of announcement that Toyota Australia came very close to securing production of the next-gen Camry due in 2017 before the decision was made to cease local operations. The Camry has been the best- and top-selling passenger car in the United States for 12 years running, however it is facing strong competition from Nissan Altima and Honda Accord, with the latter outselling the Camry in the initial two months of 2014.
In Australia, Camry sales have varied greatly since the current-generation introduced in December 2011, with Toyota Australia executive director Tony Cramb telling, last year that it expected sales to slow as the company ramped up for the midlife replacement. In spite of overall Camry sales being down by 8.7% in Australia in 2013, the automaker marketed 24,860 Camry models for maintaining its title as the best-selling midsize vehicle by a substantial margin, with a market share of 42.2%. The closest competition came from Mazda6 which recorded sales of 7701 units for the full 12 months of 2013. So far this year, Camry sales have soared by 43.8%, with 2898 examples of Aussie-built saloon finding homes in the initial two months of the year compared to the same period last year. This is well above the haul of its Aurion V6 twin which shifted 496 units in January and February combined.
Some people describe the current Camry as uninspired. No doubt Toyota wants to give it more pizzazz under the glow of the Big Apple.
We will find out more on 16th April.