Earlier in January, Toyota (NYSE:TM) CEO Akio Toyoda unveiled the company's plans to soup up the Camry. Listen to this segment from Industry Focus: Industrials to hear what will change with the midsize sedan and why Toyota seems to be focusing so much effort on this model.
A full transcript follows the video.
This podcast was recorded on Jan. 19, 2017.
Sean O'Reilly: I have to hear about this Camry. I recently had the pleasure of getting a rental car, and I had one of those brand-new Fusions. They are amazing-looking. Those new Civics, I live in metro D.C. here, and there are Zipcars everywhere. For listeners who don't know, you basically rent a car for an hour for $10. There's a fleet of brand-new Honda Civics. These are incredibly attractive, sporty-looking cars. So, the Camry has been a best-seller for -- you tell me -- as long as I can remember.
John Rosevear: Fifteen years, at least. [laughs]
O'Reilly: Yeah, 15 years for a four-door sedan. I have to ask, are they souping this puppy up? Because they're starting to get some very attractive competition out there.
Rosevear: It's interesting. Toyota did roll out an all-new Toyota Camry. The Camry -- I think most of us think of it as a midsize sedan -- it's a family car, it comes in beige, and it'll go 200,000 miles without any reliability problems. It's very safe, but it's not very exciting. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is looking to roll more excitement into Toyota's mainstream products. My comment about the all-new Camry is: It's like a Camry, only sportier. It still has the quirky Toyota styling, but it's lower and sleeker. You get inside and it almost feels like a sports car. There's a sports-sedan dash. There are two big gauges right in front of you, speedometer and tach, and it's almost reminiscent of Audi's layout, which is not a bad thing to find in a Toyota Camry. The seats are supportive. There is, as always, plenty of room in the back seat, cupholders where you need them, all this kind of stuff. It's still a midsize family car.
But Toyota is promising that this one will be more fun to drive. They talked at length about changes to the suspension: revamped suspension settings, rear suspension design is new, sportier handling is the goal. They're giving it a little more power, even in the hybrid version. They're trying to say, "This is a more interesting car than it has been in the past." It's still a Toyota. It still brings, presumably, all the Toyota virtues, the reliability and everything else, that people have been drawn to from the brand for years. But what we're seeing in the larger picture of the midsize sedan segment: Midsize sedan sales as a group have been shrinking, because more people are buying SUVs. I think Toyota is saying, "Hmm, this may lead some of our competitors to invest less in midsize sedans. We're the leader in this segment. Let's step up with something really compelling, and see if we can steal some market share."