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Camry's US No.1 spot in peril

2013-07-26 12:50

DANGER ZONE: Toyota's Camry is in danger of losing its No.1 spot in the US as other brands are hot on its tail. Image: Toyota

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Toyota has launched a new limited edition version of its best-selling vehicle - the Toyota Hilux Dakar Edition.

TOM KRISNER

NEW YORK - Since January 2013, Toyota's Camry has seen its mid-size market share fall by 1.6 percentage points to 12.6%, according to Ward's Automotive, while Honda's Accord gained 0.5 to 11.2%.

The Camry has been No.1 for more than a decade but Toyota is straining, the Detroit News says, to keep it there through discounts, rebates and lease deals.

Camry sales fell by two percent January-June 2013 while its main rivals - Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion - posted big gains. The Accord trailed the Camry in sales by 21 000 at the end of June 2013. Back in June 2012 the gap was 59 000.

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Toyota has increased discounts and cut the Camry pricing to keep it on top. In early July the average sales price was the lowest of the nine top-selling medium cars at an equivalent of R203 000; a year earlier it was R189 400 according to data from JD Power. The Accord is rolling out of showroom fast even though it cost about R25 000 more than the 2013 Camry at R228 000.

The Camry is no longer cool in the looks department. Its conservative design and performance lag behind the likes of the sportier Accord, Fusion and Altima of Honda, industry analysts say.

Edmunds.com’s  senior analyst said: “Although the Camry is not that old, it certainly seems older than the rest.” She added thatToyota needed to hold on to Camry’s market share as mainstay of the brand in the US, Toyota’s largest market.

A Toyota US spokesperson said: “We’re happy with the Camry’s top position in the market and will continue to promote itss quality and reliability. Toyota normally sells more than 30 000 of the cars a month but sales nearly hit 40 000 in May.”

The DetNews said Schaffner wouldn’t comment on when a revamped Camry might come out, but said Toyota's president Akio Toyoda has been emphasising stylish design and fun-to-drive cars in the company’s recent models such as the Corolla compact that’s due later in 2013.

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