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Toyota axes manual Camry

Dropped: The Toyota Camry is now an automatic-only proposition, with Toyota opting to cut the five-speed manual from the model range.

All-auto Camry as Toyota bows to slow sales of the manual medium car champ

19 May 2011

TOYOTA Australia has dropped the manual gearbox from its Camry range due to low demand, instead offering the vastly more popular five-speed automatic transmission as standard fare at no extra charge on the previously manual Altise and Sportivo variants.

The exclusion of the manual drivetrain comes as Toyota’s main locally made breadwinner enters the final phase of its model life, with an all-new model due to enter production in the fourth quarter of this year.

The move also might signify the end of do-it-yourself gear changes in the top-selling Australian medium car, as Toyota might now put all its faith in its slick new six-speed automatic transmission in the new generation car.

A six-speed manual transmission will be made available in Camry in other markets, but with more than 90 per cent of customers electing for automatic in Australia, the temptation for Toyota will be to streamline its Camry operation by losing the manual gearbox.

Holden’s new Malibu mid-sizer – due to arrive on the Australian market in the second half of 2012 – is also likely to eschew manual gear changes in favour of one of two six-speed auto transmissions listed for the Malibu in markets such as the United States where the new Chevrolet version will be an auto-only affair.

8 center imageLeft: An artist's rendering of what the next-generation Camry may look like. Below: Toyota's Altona plant and Chevrolet Malibu.

Although automotive industry vehicle price bibles are still listing five-speed manual Camry models in the current range, Toyota Australia has confirmed to GoAuto that the manual Camry alternatives will be gone by the end of this month.

The Toyota website is already advertising only automatic cars, showing all models listed with the five-speed automatic that was previously standard only on the mid-range Ateva and range-topping Grande levels.

The entry-level Atise remains at $30,490 or about $33,884 driveaway (depending on location and state charges), while the Sportivo Auto, as it is now known, stays on $33,990 or about $37,474 driveaway.

As well, the Camry Touring special edition, with a range of extras such as dual-zone climate control, six-disc sound system and 17 inch alloy wheels, remains as $30,990 or about $34,399 driveaway. This model already had automatic transmission as standard.

At the other end of the range, the Camry Grande tops the range at $39,990 or about $32,624 driveaway.

Toyota’s Altona factory has been on half shifts this month due to parts shortages in the wake of the March earthquake in Japan, but will resume normal production on June 6 – earlier than expected.

As GoAuto reported this week, work on a $331 million refurbishment of the four-cylinder engine plant at Altona will start in August in readiness to supply new 2.5-litre engines for the next Camry, although the renewed plant will not reach full production until about October 2012.

This means Toyota Australia will import the new AR engines – replacing the 2.4-litre AZ engine in the Camry – from Japan for up to 12 months while the local engine plant gets up to speed.

The Camry is the best-selling medium car in Australia, holding a commanding 32.8 per cent share of its segment.

However, sales of the ageing car are down 18.6 per cent so far this year, and its share has slipped from 37.3 per cent at the same time last year.

Last year, Toyota sold just over 25,000 Camrys for a 40.2 per cent share of the medium-car market segment.

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