How Toyota Motor Corporation Will Fight Back Against Ford's Fusion

The current Toyota Camry has received good reviews, but it has lost market share as rivals have upped their games. Toyota has hinted that the Camry is about to receive a major overhaul. Photo credit: Toyota.

Most critics agree that Toyota's  (NYSE: TM  )  current Camry model is a fine car. Like its predecessors, it delivers pretty much what we've come to expect from a Toyota: quality, value, and reliability in an efficient if unexciting package.

For years, that was enough to make the Camry America's best-selling car. But times have changed. The Camry is still good, but the competition is a lot better than it used to be -- and Toyota's midsize flagship has lost considerable market share over the last year.

But Toyota looks set to fight back. As Fool contributor John Rosevear explains in this short video, Toyota is hinting that it will reveal a substantially overhauled Camry in just a few weeks -- one that it hopes will leapfrog the Camry ahead of Ford's  (NYSE: F  ) hot Fusion and other much-improved rivals.

A transcript of the video is below.

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John Rosevear: Hey Fools, it's John Rosevear, senior auto analyst for Fool.com. I don't know about you, but I'm definitely looking forward to the media days at the New York International Auto Show, which kicks off on April . I'll be there with my Foolish colleague Rex Moore, reporting right from the auto show floor on all of the important debuts, and we're getting word that one of the most important events at the show might be Toyota's.

Toyota is expected to show off a refreshed version of the Camry at the show.

Now, it's not all-new, it's just refreshed. Generally, about halfway or maybe two-thirds of the way through a model's planned life cycle, automakers will do what's called a "midcycle refresh," or MCR. Typically we see an updated grill design, maybe some changes to the interior, maybe a new engine or a revised one, but not huge changes, just some things to give the model a boost in its competitiveness as it ages, to make it seem fresher.

But Toyota says that its update of the Camry, and I quote, "will challenge conventional expectations of a mid-cycle model change." So they've clearly got something a little more dramatic planned, and that's not really a surprise because the Camry has been losing market share here in the U.S., and that's a big deal because it's Toyota's biggest seller here.

That's not because the current Camry is bad. It's not, in fact it's quite good, pretty much what you'd expect.

But the thing is, Toyota's competitors have all upped their games. The current Honda  (NYSE: HMC  ) Accord is very nice, Ford's Fusion has been huge, in fact many critics say the Fusion has made the Camry seem boring, and Nissan's  (NASDAQOTH: NSANY  ) Altima has been very strong -- and Nissan has been aggressively pushing it, with price cuts and incentives and so forth to try to steal some thunder from Toyota.

The Kia Optima and the Mazda6 also gained market share from the Camry last year, and the Nissan Altima has actually outsold the Camry in the first two months of 2014 here in the U.S. But Toyota says that the Camry will remain the top-selling car in the U.S. in 2014, so clearly they're planning to go to bat for it.

Now, there's a whole lot that Toyota can do to fight back here. The shift in exchange rates between the dollar and the yen has meant that Toyota's profits per car sold here are much bigger in yen terms, they have some room to cut prices or boost incentives if they want. And of course Toyota has plenty of money in the bank right now and they could really get aggressive on pricing if they wanted to.

Toyota also has the manufacturing capacity to really crank things up. Remember last year Ford's Fusion factory actually got maxed out, they had to add another assembly line in Michigan, well let's just say Toyota isn't in danger of having that problem.  So we will be at Toyota's event when it shows off the refreshed Camry, we'll find out what they're planning, and we'll have video and commentary for you right from the show floor. Thanks for watching.

Are you ready for this $14.4 trillion revolution?
Let's face it, every investor wants to get in on revolutionary ideas before they hit it big. Like buying PC-maker Dell in the late 1980s, before the consumer computing boom. Or purchasing stock in e-commerce pioneer Amazon.com in the late 1990s, when it was nothing more than an upstart online bookstore. The problem is, most investors don't understand the key to investing in hyper-growth markets. The real trick is to find a small-cap "pure-play" and then watch as it grows in EXPLOSIVE lockstep with its industry. Our expert team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's poised to produce rocket-ship returns with the next $14.4 TRILLION industry. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening report.


Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2014, at 9:34 PM, ScottSatellite wrote:

    From look looks of every Toyota and Lexus show car and new model release in the last 6 months, Ford has absolutely nothing to worry about. Whatever features it may be able to boast, even the most diehard Camry fans won't be able to get past the horrid styling.

  • Report this Comment On April 01, 2014, at 9:53 AM, ohiodale wrote:

    Its not about the looks of the car. Buying american is a trend. The younger generation is pro american just like the last generation was pro Japanese. Kids always change from what their parents like. There is nothing Toyota can do to keep Ford market share from rising. Ford are now considered the "cool" cars.

  • Report this Comment On April 01, 2014, at 10:43 PM, 18RC wrote:

    Toyota is copying the business plan of General Motors in the 1980's and 90's: keep making the cars rougher riding and noisier with more skimpily padded seats, all plastic door panels, hard cardboard headliner and felt thin carpeting. And much harder for the owner to service themselves.

    The face lifted "new Camry" will be just like the previous Camry in all of the above respects.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 10:11 AM, eidsonb wrote:

    Liked the Fusion so much we bought two of them....

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 1:13 PM, rajaa25 wrote:

    Toyota's last for ever. I had a corolla that I purchased in 1998 and it lasted me till 2012 with now issues what so ever. I sold it to a buyer that thanked me over and over since the engine still runs like brand new.

    I purchased a 2012 camry and it drives like a charm.

    I do not trust GM,Ford or Chrysler enought to purchase a new car.

    Hyundai has improved but I still remember the days when the quality sucked. I cannot think of dropping $20k on a hyundai.

    One thing that I would change in the Toyota's is comfort. I usually bend my left foot while driving and it hits the left door, maybe they can customize the door build for different people.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 1:23 PM, cityperson wrote:

    If Toyota makes the car without the sewing machine engine, then they might take on the Ford Fusion or Nissan.

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