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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Jul 28 2011, 6:30 PM

Still plagued by the effects of the March 11th earthquake, Toyota won’t be able to turn a profit Stateside until September.

Sales of Toyotas have been plummeting since May: 33% then and 21% in June, and a projected 21-33% for the month of July. This comes on a total 4% slide from the first quarter, even though the rest of the industry saw an increase of 13%. Not good. And to make Toyota’s matters even worse, there’s still a shortage of cars and light trucks for dealer lots—one that won’t be fulfilled for weeks.

“Our market share will begin recovering this month, but it will be September or maybe October before we’re really growing again,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s vice president for US sales. “We were in too deep a hole, and we’re still digging out.”

Weak consumer confidence is also not helping matters, even though Toyota is launching a boost in incentives to attract consumers. By September, however, Toyota should be back to regular production in both Japan and North America, especially with the new, perennially-popular Camry dropping this fall.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 |  Jun 30 2011, 4:07 PM

Toyota is counting on a sweeping advertising barrage to regain consumer confidence in its Camry, positioning itself as ”smart, safe and worry-free.”

The campaign will coincide with both Toyota’s expected return to full production capacity and a redesign for the Camry. And by “massive” and “sweeping,” Toyota plans on 40 commercials with the company’s familiar narrative of safe, dependable transportation for the masses.

It’s been a tough year for Toyota in general: they are still recovering from the spate of product recalls last year, as well as the production downturn from the earthquake. And to recover, they are aiming this campaign alongside at least 20 new or redesigned cars within the next two years: 13 of which will be significantly more different than now. It will include a new Avalon, a compact Prius, and the long-awaited FRS sports car for Scion. Ultimately, Toyota wants to hit a sales target of 2 million vehicles by 2013.

Expect to see ads beginning in October. There’s no word on whether they’ll involve ninjas, zombies, or children’s television mascots.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]

 |  Jun 14 2011, 2:24 PM

A group of green car enthusiasts are looking to set a Guinness World Record in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday, July 24 for the longest hybrid vehicle parade. The event know as Hybrids On Parade, will allow hybrid owners from throughout the Midwest to converge in Madison with 500 hybrids stretching over six miles to break the record. A previous record was set in Belgium in 2010 with a 140 hybrid car parade.

“It’s well known Madison has a green streak,” says Smart Motors HOP organizer, Paul Cooley. “So it only makes sense that we also hold a world record associated with the technology.”

Only the first 500 entrants will be accepted to the parade which will be made up entirely of everything from the Prius and Camry Hybrid (Smart Motors is a Toyota dealer) to the Volt, Fusion Hybrid and Civic Hybrid and more.

“The features of hybrid vehicles really lend it to a parade situation,” says Allen Foster, vice president and general manager at Smart Motors. Even with 500 vehicles traveling over 6.2 miles the end result is that they stay in electric mode for all of, or nearly all of the parade.”

Those looking to register or find our more info can visit Hybrids on Parade here.

 |  May 30 2011, 2:42 PM

Toyota is taking product development authority away from Japanese bosses and putting it in the hands of North American executives as part of a larger change aimed at fixing quality control issues that hurt the automaker’s reputation last year.

Until now, vehicles produced and designed and developed in North America had to be approved by chief engineers in Japan. Vehicles unique to the North American market such as the Venza, Sienna, Avalon, Tacoma and Tundra will no longer require painstaking and frustrating sign-offs from Japan at each step of the development processes.

“We are going to implement the process from design to preparation for production to development, cost planning, and identifying and selecting suppliers,” said Inaba, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. “All these processes are going to be 100 percent done here, without going back to Japan for approval.”

The changes come too late to affect the development of the redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry due this fall, however upcoming models based in North America, such as the next Tundra pickup, will see the result of the new structure.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  May 24 2011, 11:50 AM

 

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The Toyota Prius family could grow even larger as the automakers studies additional versions of the three row Prius.

The Japanese automaker wants to sell 1 million hybrids a year and in early 2012, Toyota will launch two more Prius family members. The members will include the Prius C compact hybrid and the Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Toyota will be taking two paths with the hybrid section. The dedicated Prius platform, and optional hybrid variant of existing vehicles like the Camry, Venza and Sienna.

Bob Carter Toyota Division Manager said the three-row Prius would have to come from a dedicated hybrid platform, have the Prius’ aerodynamic shape, get at least 40mpg and have a modest price tag.

However, research and development costs for other hybrid vehicles are almost unaffordable for Toyota. In the next 20 months, 10 new or redesigned hybrids will be introduced in within the Toyota brand.

[Source: Automotive News]

 

 |  May 20 2011, 5:00 PM

The current Camry was last redesigned in 2006 and Toyota is preparing for the next model due this fall, according to WardsAuto.com.

Toyota faces fierce competition from the latest offerings out of Korea and the U.S, so the new model is of the utmost importance to the company. Toyota sold 327,084 Camrys in 2010 still leading midsize family sedans in sales, however this is the lowest sales figure for the Camry since 1994. Surprisingly, Toyota expected the Prius hybrid to outsell the Camry in future. As gas prices keep rising and families are switching from midsize sedans to compact cars, it will be interesting to see what happens to the Camry in the future.

[Source: Ward's Auto]

 |  May 04 2011, 1:20 PM

Even with skyrocketing fuel prices, subcompacts are selling less than their compact counterparts.  The Ford Fiesta was the overall leader in the subcompact department, 9,147 sales but still trailed the larger Focus’  17,265 total sales. Honda Civic sales rose 7% to 26,777 which is more than triple the Fit’s total of 8,116 units in April. Furthermore, the mid-size Accord even managed to outsell the Civic.

The issue seems to be one of value for more consumers. Subcompacts are barely more efficient than compacts. The base model Civic coupe costs only $505 more than a basic Fit, but the mileage difference is minuscule.

With the ongoing price battle at the pumps, it wouldn’t be surprising to see models like the Fiesta, Accent or Fiesta to rival the Toyota Camry or Ford F150 in sales. Soon enough we may see subcompacts catching up to regularly sized cars and without a doubt, your wallet will thank you the next time you fill up.

[Source: Kicking Tires]

 

 |  Oct 29 2010, 3:50 PM

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Building off of their success in NASCAR, Toyota has announced the RK Collection Camry NASCAR Edition show car, which will make its debut at SEMA next week. The special edition Camry is actually a two-door coupe and was developed by RK Collection, assisting Toyota Racing Development (TRD) realize the full potential of the Camry into a NASCAR counterpart.

The Camry Coupe features an exterior shell custom-made by RKC and includes a full body kit, Toyota grill, carbon fiber brake ducts with fog lights and of course, TRD emblems throughout. On all four corners are stylish 20-inch TSW Jarama wheels. They are staggered with a 8.5-inch wide fitment in the front and a 10-inch wide fitment in the rear. They’ll come wrapped with Michelin Pilot rubber.

Powering the NASCAR Edition Camry is a massive 358 ci TRD NASCAR V8 power plant. The motor puts out 680-hp @ 8500 RPM. Gliding it through the gears is a Tremic T-56 Magnum 6-speed manual transmission equipped with Ram’s dual-disc street clutch. Enhancing the V8 is a custom 3-inch exhaust, Thrush mufflers and custom side exhaust tips.

No race-inspired machine would be complete with a wicked suspension setup. The Camry receives modified Macpherson struts in the front, while the rear sports Venza’s modified multi-link independent suspension.

Inside the panels have been covered in leather while the headliner has been finished in suede. SPEK gauges by Proparts are seen in the dashboard while Vintage Air provides air conditioning. A four-point roll cage was also installed not to only stiffen the chassis, but to reinforce for safety.

Last but not least, the Camry also has a wicked stereo system for those wanting to replace the exhaust note with more memorable tunes. Pioneer’s AVIC-2110BT stands as the head unit while Boston Acoustics equips the Camry with six amplifiers, two pairs of component speakers and a 12-inch subwoofer.

After it debuts at SEMA, the car can be seen on November 12th at Phoenix International Raceway during the NASCAR race weekend.

AutoGuide will bring you plenty of live shots of the NASCAR Edition Camry from the SEMA Show with coverage starting November 2nd. Until then, check out our SEMA Preview here.

GALLERY: RK Collection Toyota Camry NASCAR Edition

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Official press release available after the break.

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 |  May 19 2010, 8:46 AM

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With Toyota having recently undergone the worst period in its history, the grandson’s founder and man at the helm of the Japanese auto giant looks to be ready to make big changes in order to get the company back on track. More than just an executive, Akio Toyoda is a well-known car buff who loves to get out on the race track, so its no surprise that he wants to instill some passion into Toyota’s lineup of models.

In an interview with Automotive News, Toyoda admitted that its most important model, the Camry, is now facing serious market pressure from competitors such as General Motors, Ford and Hyundai. “Look at the Ford Taurus. It may be making a comeback. GM also has Camry fighters. And they’ve been done with a fun-to-drive touch. And Hyundai is coming up, and they’re looking good,” said Toyoda. “So we have to start asking, ‘Can we just keep doing the Camry like this?’”

Fortunately for Toyota it has survived the recession and is back to profitability after recording its first ever loss. The recall crisis seems to have subsided as well, with sales signifying that current and past Toyota owners weren’t overly phased by the fiasco. The problem, however, will be getting new buyers from other brands. To do this Toyota will need a more exciting Camry. It will also need more exciting entry-level models to bring in first-time buyers.

To solve that problem, Toyoda said he wants to focus more on the “neglected” Scion brand – which will receive two new models in the next 12 months, including the second generation tC and all-new iQ mini car. Originally the Scion brand was exciting, but Toyoda admits that recently the Scion lineup has become “more like the regular Toyota vehicles.”

Also on the burner is the much-touted FT-86 entry-level sports car, which Toyoda did not comment on.

He does have high hopes for the future, however, commenting that lessons have been learned and that, “if we can apply those lessons one at a time, it won’t be long until we’re back where we were.”

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  May 07 2010, 12:02 PM

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Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars, forecasted a 57% increase in quarterly profits, as sales in the United States grew while costs were reduced.

Fuji Heavy also said that they will boost production at its Indiana plant from 100,000 to 131,000 units. The plant builds Subarus as well as Toyota Camrys, as Toyota owns a 16.5 stake in Fuji Heavy.

Speaking to Reuters, Chief Executive Ikuo Mori said that Subaru may need to take further steps if it keeps growing in the United States. “It’s not that simple to add capacity, but we may have to consider some steps if sales keep growing at this pace,” he said, adding suggesting that the India plant has the potential to be expanded.

Fuji Heavy is on track for an annual profit of $474 million, with shares up 15% since last year, making it one of the best performing auto industry companies in Japan.

[Source: Reuters]

 |  Nov 19 2009, 12:41 PM

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The Prius could surpass the Camry as Toyota’s best selling model in the U.S. in the next ten years says the head of Toyota’s sales department. Toyota Motor Sales boss Jim Lentz made the comments, stating that he sees the Prius gaining ground, rather than the Camry (the top selling passenger car in the U.S. for 11 of the past 12 years) shrinking.

The prediction, however, is a long way off from reality, as so far in 2009 Prius sales aren’t even half of Camry sales, with the former registering 118,290 units sold, while the Camry sits as 294,493 units sold. Both the Camry and Prius had their best sales years ever in 2007, when the Prius sold 181,221 units, compared to the Camry’s 473,108 units. Toyota is predicting 140,000 units for the Prius in ’09.

While Lentz’s prediction is based on increasing environmental awareness it may, however, depend on two other important factors. The first is if Toyota actually commits to building the Prius in the U.S., a move which could drastically reduce the cost of making the car. If Toyota could then sell the Prius for even less it would easily be even more of a dominant force in the hybrid marketplace, with “competitors” like the Honda Insight, (with its less impressive fuel economy and smaller interior room), priced only slightly lower than the current Prius. The second factor would be if the Prius nameplate was expanded to include additional models – like the a wagon or crossover, which recent reports have suggested will arrive soon.

Lentz has said he is pushing for more Prius models, but wouldn’t give any confirmation on the matter.

[Source: WardsAuto]

 |  Jan 16 2009, 2:29 PM

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Amidst all the excitement about the new Toyota Prius at the North American International Auto Show, no one at Toyota mentioned (and no one else seemed to notice)  that for 2010 the Camry will receive all sorts of updates.

The most significant change is the use of a slightly larger 4-cylinder engine – 2.5-liters, up from 2.4-liters. The engine will make 169hp on the LE and XLE models with 179hp on SE models – an increase of 21hp.

Incredibly, Toyota will offer the 2010 Camry four-cylinder models with either a 6-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.

The 2010 Camry will also receive a new front grille and new front bumper with a larger lower intake. The projector headlights will also be larger, the tail lights will get a styling update and XLE and SE models will receive new wheel designs.

The Camry Hybrid will also get a few aesthetic enhancements, aimed at differentiating it from the rest of the lineup. A unique hybrid grille design and new front bumper are a part of the update, as is a larger lower intake and redesigned fog lights. A new 16-inch wheel design is also coming.

In terms of safety, all 2010 Camry’s will come with Vehicle Stability Control as standard. Auto up and down windows that feature jam protection will also be standard equipment on all Camry’s.

2010 Toyota Camry:

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2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid:

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Official release after the jump:

Continue Reading…