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Local Toyota Camry set to fade to black

New era: The manufacturing source for Toyota’s imported Camry for Australia is set to be announced at the Detroit motor show where the new-generation sedan will be revealed.

Toyota Australia plans to ease into Camry run-out as factory closure looms

5 Jan 2017

TOYOTA is expecting sales of its locally-made Camry and Aurion to slow this year as it gets set to pull the pin on its Australian factory in the fourth quarter.

While the company sold a combined 30,318 of the two vehicles in 2016, Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb told GoAuto that early expectations were that the 2017 tally was unlikely to exceed 30,000.

Mr Cramb declined to say exactly why sales of the Camry and Aurion would slow, except that the current models would be in run-out ahead of the introduction of an all-new imported Camry that Toyota is planning to reveal at this month’s Detroit motor show.

He said production planning for the remaining months of 2017 at the Altona plant was now being completed.

“The production volumes are being finalised as we speak, so we will make an announcement this quarter,” he said. “But we need to take into consideration demand from all customer bases and then talk to the suppliers and employees first before a public announcement.

“We are still committed to closing in the fourth quarter though.”

Mr Cramb’s comments suggest Toyota is not planning one of its famous sales blitzes with Camry as it heads into the sunset, rather an orderly departure.

Mr Cramb said that like the production targets, the closure date would be revealed to employees and suppliers first before going public.

The Toyota Camry was the top-selling vehicle in Australia in December, thanks to a sales push in the latter weeks of the year.

Camry’s 4850 sales in December took the mid-sized sedan’s 2016 sales to 26,485, pipping Holden’s Commodore (25,860).

The V6 Aurion – which is based on the Camry – scored 3833 sales last year, down 11 per cent on 2015.

Mr Cramb said sales of Toyota’s locally-made cars had been “an issue for the past few years and will continue to be”.

However, he said he was happy with the volume achieved in 2016.

“Last year we set out to get 30,000 and we did,” he said. “We are not setting out to get 30,000 in 2017. That is not our plan, but we haven’t yet got volumes finally determined yet.”

Mr Cramb said he was excited about the new-generation Camry that will be revealed at the Detroit show, but would not reveal where the new car would be imported from for Australia, or when it would be launched on this market.

He said the manufacturing source would be announced at Detroit, but other plans “will come later”.

Mr Cramb said Toyota was also looking forward to the arrival of the company’s first small SUV, the CH-R, which is scheduled to land in Toyota showrooms in the first quarter of this year to take the fight up to the likes of the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V.

He said volumes would be constrained initially, but that it would “make a pretty bold statement about the changes we have been talking about in terms of styling and also in terms of driveability”.

“I can’t wait to launch that car,” he said.

Toyota also is preparing to launch a facelift for its Corolla sedan, along with new safety technology for its hatchback counterpart.

The Corolla was Australia’s top-selling small car in 2016, with more than 40,000 sales, but it surrendered its number one vehicle crown to its stable-mate, the HiLux, for the first time.

Mr Cramb declined to be drawn on whether the HiLux – Australia’s top-selling light commercial vehicle for 19 years – would come under threat from Ford’s hard-charging Ranger this year.

“Ultimately, the consumers will decide that,” he said. “We don’t concern ourselves with what others are doing.”

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