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Toyota’s Camry is alive and kicking

It’s back: Sales of the Toyota Camry are up 6.5 per cent in 2019, proving there is life in the mid-size-car segment for at least one manufacturer.

Camry swims against the tide to make Toyota sales gains where others drown


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12 Nov 2019

IT SEEMS that no-one told Toyota that the traditional mid-size sedan is dead, killed off by the trend to SUVs.


While many other manufacturers are walking away from passenger cars – particularly the mid-size variety – Toyota Australia is redoubling its efforts to ensure its range of four-door sedans remain a healthy part of the line-up.


After all, the Japanese giant has never been afraid of looking out of step with fashion – as long as there is a sale, market share and a few bucks in it.


The Camry is a case in point. Just when the mid-size-car segment looked dead and buried – especially after Toyota pulled the pin on local manufacturing in 2017 – the Camry has made a small but significant comeback.


Sales of the Japanese-made imported model are up 6.5 per cent this year, with October proving to be a bumper month delivering 1505 Camry sales – a year-on-year jump of 33 per cent that almost put the plain-Jane sedan back in the top 10 for the month.


This gain was made against the overall downward trend of mid-size-car sales which have slipped 12 per cent so far this year after being hammered by more than 27 per cent last year.


Moreover, Camry is the only car in its class to make headway against the headwinds. For example, its main rival, the Mazda6, is down 17.3 per cent with just 2282 sales.


Camry now holds a record 62.9 per cent share of the segment, almost 10 percentage points up on last year. Even by Toyota standards, that domination is impressive.


A decade ago, when the Australian-made Camry was up against 27 rivals, its segment share was 36 per cent, even though its sales were above 20,000 units a year.


These days, Camry’s competition is falling by the wayside, down to 10 active members this year.


And of those, at least two are expected to show the white flag in the next couple of years as models are discontinued due to lack of interest.


Camry’s recent success has a lot to do with the latest model that, while only an evolutionary engineering and design improvement over the previous Australian-made version, has noticeable fit and finish gains thanks to Japanese build quality.


Its latest hybrid drivetrain has also proved a winner, especially with fleets and taxi operators with whom the Camry remains a mainstay, partly because of the durability and low maintenance costs of the electrified powertrain.


Last month, one in every two Camrys sold in Australia was fitted with the hybrid powertrain.


And then there is the price, with Camry starting at $27,790 plus on-road costs for the four-cylinder Ascent and just $30,090 for the base hybrid version.


By comparison, the most affordable Mazda6, the Sport, starts at $34,490.


The Camry Hybrid will get more direct competition before the end of the year with the arrival of the new-generation Honda Accord that will also boast a hybrid variant – a twin motor unit that should shake up the segment, provided the price is right.

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