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Bold future for Toyota's Avalon replacement

Disappointment: Avalon has never managed to hit the initial sales forecast of 2000 per month.

Toyota set to take on Holden and Ford with Avalon replacement

18 Oct 2004

THE replacement for Toyota’s unloved Avalon large car will be styled locally and aimed specifically at the Australian market.

And Toyota Australia appears set to back up the unique look by making the car its prime V6 model, while the next Camry will be predominantly four-cylinder.

The new V6 engine is expected to grow from the current 3.0-litre capacity to either 3.3 or 3.5-litres and be mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

The unique styling and larger engine shape is Toyota Australia’s best chance yet to grab a sizeable chunk of Australia’s big selling large car market against Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon.

Avalon was launched with much fanfare in 2000 but has never managed to hit the initial sales forecast of 2000 per month. In 2004 it has averaged 486 sales per month.

"The Avalon from day one, in spite of its rather controversial introduction, created exactly what we wanted," Toyota Australia executive chairman John Conomos said at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

"There is an awareness of Toyota in large cars. You all knew that from day one. The issue whether the car was popular in terms of style was another story.

"The car was popular in terms of its quality, its driveability and user-friendliness. The Avalon has positioned us as having a chance to participate in a segment of sedans-only large cars.

"So we intend to capitalise on that with the replacement car." As part of this dramatic revamp, it also seems that Toyota Australia is debating whether the Avalon name will carry on.

"We will consider everything," said Mr Conomos. "We are considering many things, we have not decided that yet."

8 center image The finishing touches to the Avalon replacement’s design are being made now in Japan by Toyota Style Australia’s Nick Hogios (left).

Mr Hogios’ presence in Japan had previously been linked with work on the next generation Camry world car due on sale globally (including Australia) by early 2006.

Although there’s no doubt Mr Hogios has contributed to the development of the new Camry and some unique Australian flourishes for that vital international model, Toyota sources confirm his priority is the Avalon replacement.

The current local Avalon is a superseded American design. Its replacement’s looks have been the subject of much debate within Toyota Australia, with various international choices eventually rejected in favour of coming up with a localised exterior and interior.

That Toyota headquarters has allowed the design to be headed up by Mr Hogios – albeit based in Japan – is a huge achievement and recognises the level of respect TSA is garnering.

"Yes, it is Aussie-designed," said Mr Conomos, speaking about the Avalon replacement.

"Yes, it will be introduced but at a slightly later date than the Camry and the Camry principally will be four-cylinder." The new Avalon will roll out in Australia late in 2006, manufactured alongside Camry at the Altona plant and based on Camry’s updated international architecture, rather than the localised TMP the current cars use.

That means a slightly longer wheelbase than the current Camry and Avalon. The cars will share identical hard points, but significantly different sheetmetal. Toyota Australia had hopes of also stretching the Avalon replacement’s wheelbase but that has gone by the wayside.

A long wheelbase Avalon would have gone hand-in-hand with a Middle East export program, where it would have fitted neatly with the popular Camry.

But Mr Conomos confirmed there were no export plans for the Avalon replacement, although he hinted that may come down the track.

"We have no plans on export of that car. Not yet. We are not planning to export it from day one." The international architecture is also all-wheel drive capable, but this does not appear to be part of the plan at this stage.

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