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Toyota to fight to keep Camry in buyers’ minds

Loose change: While the exterior is expected to change radically, the Australian version of the heavily facelifted Camry is expected to have fewer cabin changes than those built in other manufacturing centres worldwide.

Long wait for new Camry will cause “difficulties” for mid-size segment leader

Toyota logo17 Apr 2014

By BARRY PARK in NEW YORK

A LONG lead time between the radically refreshed Toyota Camry’s international launch later this year and its arrival in Australia some time in 2015 will create “difficulties” for the car-maker, it says.

Toyota Australia public relations manager Mike Breen said the car-maker would have to work hard to keep buyers interested in the current Camry while watching a radically facelifted one that will eventually be sold here go on sale in overseas markets from September.

The tie-in with the current Camry appears to be locked into the vehicle’s export program, which continues right up until the point the car-maker quits its Australian car-making business in late 2017.

According to Mr Breen, Toyota still planned to make about 25,000 Camrys a year for local sales, while exports have traditionally accounted for about another 70,000 units a year. The car remains the clear top seller in its mid-size class in Australia, outstripping the likes of the sharp Mazda6, Ford’s ageing Mondeo and the value-driven Hyundai i40.

Mr Breen said while he could not confirm a launch date for the car, Toyota was preparing to change all the tooling at its manufacturing plant in Altona in Melbourne’s west ahead of the facelifted model’s launch in Australia.

The bigger challenge, though, he said, was keeping buyers interested in the current model ahead of the facelifted version’s launch.

“There could be special editions at some stage (using equipment upgrades to add) a little more buyer appeal” he said.

Mr Breen was unable to say if Toyota Australia would source more components for the radically facelifted Camry from its local suppliers or overseas sources.

However, one clue to how significantly the new car will vary from the model unveiled at the New York motor show overnight is the fact that the interior of the Australian-made Camry will have fewer changes compared with the US version’s more upmarket feel.

The car will also miss out on significant safety upgrades that will add features such as autonomous braking, lane departure warning and blind-spot monitors.

Toyota Australia is preparing to exit the Australian manufacturing landscape in 2017 ahead of the launch of an all-new Camry about the same time as its operations wind down.

Apart from the significant sheetmetal update to the Australian-made Camry due next year, Toyota’s Aurion V6-engined large car will gain a minor facelift shortly after the Camry’s overhaul that will carry it through until the end of 2017.

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