Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe with yhr Corolla Axio, a sedan version of the new Corolla range. (Photo: Katsumi Kasahara, AP)
Japan's top carmaker for the first time altered the name of its top volume model - now in its 10th generation - to Corolla Axio for the sedan and Corolla Fielder for the wagon, hoping to shed the car's image as competitive but staid.
"With the new name, we want to expand our customer base and increase volumes," President Katsuaki Watanabe told a news conference in Tokyo, noting that the average age of current Corolla buyers was around 60 in Japan.
The 40-year-old Corolla series is sold in 140 markets and built in 16 countries, with cumulative global sales approaching 32 million units since its 1966 launch.
Watanabe, whose first car was a Corolla, said Toyota would revamp the model in major markets over the next year and a few months, shortening the period from around two years for past products.
He declined to specify when production of the remodelled Corolla would begin in North America, saying only that it would proceed as planned.
Business daily Nihon Keizai reported at the weekend that Toyota had decided to delay its US production plans in the region from 2007 to 2008 in order to maintain quality.
Toyota, which last month said it aimed to boost global vehicle sales by 11% over two years to 9.8 million units in 2008, set its combined monthly sales target for the new Corolla Axio and Fielder models at 12 000 units in Japan.
Toyota South Africa could not be reached for comment, however, Wheels24 expects that the local Corolla range will only be replaced in 2008.
The estate version of the new Corolla, the Fielder. (Photo: Yuriko Nakao, Reuters)