In an attempt to reboot its tarnished image and slipping sales, Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled its 2012 Camry on Tuesday. The gala event took was held on a New York City-themed Paramount Studios backlot, complete with more than 200 actors, dancers and musicians and was only a taste of what’s to come according to the company’s vice president of U.S. sales, Bob Carter.
By early 2013, the Japanese automaker plans to launch a total of 20 new or refreshed Lexus, Scion and Toyota models in the U.S.
The refreshed 2012 Toyota Camry will go on sale in the U.S. this October, with pricing starting at about $22,500.
“Then the cadence comes faster than I’ve seen in 30 years with Toyota,” said Carter. Toyota also plans to launch four other models, the hybrid Prius v wagon, refreshed Yaris subcompact and Scion iQ minicar, and a revamped Tacoma pickup by year’s end.
According to Auto Pacific Incorporated analyst Ed Kim, “Toyota has been given a black eye over the past three years for different things, some beyond their control and some that showed kinks in their armor.” He said the launch of the new Camry is “tremendously important” for the automaker which has suffered through an economic downturn, high profile recalls and the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The earthquake, which slowed production at Toyota’s Japanese plants for months, was a devastating blow to the already beleaguered automaker which has seen a 7.1 percent decline in U.S. sales this year.
Bob Carter sees the Camry launch as a seminal event in Toyota’s revival. “It really starts with the all-new Camry,” said Carter, who referred to the model as “the keystone” of the Toyota brand. He said the new Camry offers the best handling, best safety features and best fuel economy (41 mpg city/highway average) of any midsize sedan on the market.
Ed Kim applauds Toyota’s aggressive rebuilding plan and said “It is definitely good to have a heavy schedule of new models on the way to kind of wow the public.”
Toyota’s North American CEO, Yoshimi Inaba said, “To become the biggest-selling car in America, you have to be good everywhere. We think we’ve got it.”
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