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Toyota: 'Camry to stay No.1'

2013-08-14 09:08

TOP SPOT: Toyota's top-selling Camry has been No.1 in the US for 11 years. The top spot has been in peril but the automaker says its confident new sales will keep the car in its position. Image: AP

TOM KRISHER

DETROIT, Michigan - Toyota will not relinquish the Camry's spot as America's most popular car in 2013, a top executive told industry analysts.

Senior vice-president Bob Carter said the company would sell more than 400 000 of the midsize cars in 2013, sufficient to fend off a challenge from the Honda Accord and other models in the most competitive part of the US auto market.

NEW COMPETITION

The Camry has been America's top-selling car for 11 consecutive years but new arrivals from Honda, Ford, Nissan and others have chipped into its lead. Carter said it was important to Toyota that the Camry remain No.1. He told the JP Morgan Auto Conference in New York: "The midsize sedan market is the largest segment in the industry and we want Toyota to be America's favorite car - period."

He conceded that Toyota had increased discounts on the car to keep sales strong amid intense competition but said most other automakers offered even greater incentives.

Camry sales fell 2% from January through to June 2013 as its main rivals, the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion, posted big sales gains. In the first half of 2013 the hot-selling Accord trailed Camry in sales by only 21 000, closing a gap that was 59 000 in 2012.

STERLING RELIABILITY

Carter also told the analysts that the stylish and larger all-new Corolla compact would hit showrooms around the first week in September 2013. An eco version will get 17.8km/litre on the highway, better than the first-generation Toyota Prius hybrid in 2001 at 17.4km/litre.

The Corolla, he said, started Toyota's reputation for sterling reliability, and the company had sold more than 40-million worldwide. He even poked fun at the current boxy version, last updated in 2008 and looks old against the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze.

"Out of those 40-million people, nobody ever bought a Corolla because they thought they looked good driving it," Carter said. "That changes at the end of the month with the new Corolla."

The new car has more interior room than early-generation Camrys, including more back-seat legroom than the current model, Carter said. It also sits lower and has a wider stance for a more athletic look.
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