Toyota USA CEO Says Lineup Will Always Be Passenger Car-Biased

While U.S. automakers are increasingly pulling the plug on traditional passenger cars as they shift to trucks and SUVs, Toyota pledges to keep making hatchbacks, sedans and sports cars.

Toyota USA CEO Jim Lentz believes U.S. passenger car sales have nearly bottomed out at just under 30 percent of overall auto sales last month. The executive says the company will continue building them despite the spectacular growth of truck and SUV sales.

Present at the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday, Lentz argued that American consumers are still buying more than 4 million compact, midsize and near-luxury cars each year. “There’s no way I’m going to walk away from that. We are always going to have a bias toward passenger cars,” Associated Press reports.

Nevertheless, Lentz acknowledged that U.S. new car sales in 2018 will likely fall below 2010 levels. “There is a depression on the passenger car side,” he said. U.S. car sales are expected to end 2018 with a deficit of 800,000 units over 2017, while truck and SUV sales should rise by the same amount.

Toyota sold 12 percent fewer passenger cars in the first 10 months of the year in the United States, while its truck and SUV sales increased by 8 percent.

Despite the current unfavorable market conditions and moves from U.S. carmakers, Toyota will stay in the market. The Japanese automaker currently has an array of hatchbacks and sedans on sale in the United States.

Those include the full-size Avalon, mid-size Camry, compact Corolla, Yaris supermini, Sienna minivan, Prius hybrid family, Mirai fuel-cell sedan, and the 86 sports car. The lineup will grow next year with the arrival of the all-new Supra sports car.

Note: 2019 Toyota Avalon and 2020 Toyota Corolla pictured

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  • SpongeBob99Swell

    Great to know that even one of the largest automakers ever is still committed to cars despite the SUV craze..

    #Sedans #Hatchbacks #Coupes #SportsCars – #AllMatter

    • NormT

      They will get lost in the EV transition. Even Toyota dropped the Synergy tagline as they are readying for EV.

  • I see the passenger car future forking. Those who like to drive will get passenger cars, while those who couldn’t care less will chose autonomous SUVs. No matter how many gizmos they put on an SUV, the law of physics favors a car.

    • MarketAndChurch

      I don’t think there is much of a difference between the Camry and the Rav4. I think that is partially why care sales are falling, because the aren’t fun to drive to begin with, and barely better than a small or midsize crossover, so the incentive to choose a car over an SUV is almost non-existent.

      • NormT

        Toyota products are quite dull.

      • avidApplefan

        There is quite a big difference between the handling characteristics of the 2018 Camry vs the 2018 RAV4. The current RAV4 is a slog to handle, and is quite possibly one of the most boring cars I’ve ever driven. It’s designed to be comfortable, reliable, and practical; it’s not designed to invoke fun or inspire the driver to go on backroads on the weekends. That’s not necessarily an insult: that’s the whole point of the RAV4, and it nails it perfectly.

        The new Camry (which debuted in 2018) is a far cry from Camry’s of the past, and is quite nimble and fun to take through curvy backroads. Is it an M2 w/ a manual? No, it’s not. Nor is it as fun as an Accord Sport w/ the 2.0L turbo w/ a manual. But it’s still a lot of fun considering it’s a reliable, practical Camry.

        Getting car-like handling characteristics on a taller, heavier CUV/SUV forces designers to sacrifice comfort and practicality for sake of performance, which defeats the purpose of a CUV/SUV in the first place. Granted, that hasn’t stopped Porsche/BMW/Mercedes/etc. from pushing “sporty” SUVs, but they don’t compare to their sedan counterparts.

        E.g., a BMW X6 M is quite a blast to drive, and handles better than most sedans out there. But you could get an M3 for far less (~$40,000 less), and the M3 would dominate the X6 M on a racetrack and otherwise.

        Point being, the laws of physics rule in favor of lower-riding, lighter sedans/hatchbacks in terms of having fun while driving. There’s no way around it, other than making an SUV as sedan-like as possible (which automakers already do), sacrificing practicality/comfort for fun.

        • MarketAndChurch

          So you’re saying that there’s still value to buying a Sonata, Passat, Accord, Camry, or Altima over a Murano, Tiguan, CR-V, or Rav4?

        • avidApplefan already

  • Paul

    Smart move. Fill the void left by GM and Ford.

  • PhilMcGraw

    I’ve always found preference in having both an SUV and a sedan in one household. The car is great for daily driving to work, great gas mileage, and usually a more upscale interior per the price you pay compared to an SUV. The SUV is great for weekend trips and when you need to haul stuff. I just don’t see how people can honestly say they need two SUVs/crossovers in one house. And even though there is advancements in hybrid technology, a car will always be better in gas mileage than an SUV due to it’s physical shape, lower ground clearance, and lighter overall weight than an SUV.

    • rodriguez256

      Same here, I have a Altima for regular use that gets good MPGs and then a Pilot for the other spectrum. My wife and I want to get a second vehicle to replace the Altima and I believe she wants another SUV. I don’t know why, I personally want a Mazda 6. I prefer driving cars in regular weather and day to day commutes.

    • brn

      We do the same. One car. One SUV.

      Guess which one handles better?

    • NormT

      With GM introducing 20 EV’s through 2023, you may have a new commuter.

  • Mr. EP9

    They’re still dominating in the sedan market anyway so why would Toyota give up? They’ll more than happily take Ford and GM’s share of the sedan market.

    • NormT

      Enjoy your Toyota rental.

  • Honda NSX-R

    Damn that front end of the new Corolla sedan actually looks really good from that angle. And Toyota made the smart decision

    • pcurve

      rear is nice too.

      • SpongeBob99Swell

        True that, but I think what would make it look better is if the “Corolla” emblem was placed and spread out underneath the Toyota badge. Like with the rear ends of the new Avalon and Camry.

      • Honda NSX-R

        Side is pretty nice as well. Looks like it’d be a fun car to drive with the 6 speed manual

    • Craig

      I thought it was something else at first!

      • Honda NSX-R

        Haha, I was like, that’s the Corolla?!

  • Сафиуллина-Мохамед Рамазанов

    Happy with this decision after rumors talking about Toyota will shelving some models as the American, now everything is clear and Toyota today said it will be the last to do it, they’re already no.1 in passenger cars and by the American stepped down they will take more share from them also

  • rodriguez256

    It’s just too bad I don’t like a single car Toyota makes.

  • Craig

    Good for him. Are you listening GM? Ford?

    • Mr. EP9


      • Craig

        Sad. Isn’t it.

    • NormT

      Just wait for Prius V, Lexus GS and RC, and 86 to be axed now or soon.

  • Socarboy

    Please put a new front fascia on the Avalon

    • brn

      Put a new front fascia on all your recent redesigns!!!

      As someone who drives cars, not SUVs, Toyota might be on my shortlist, but the face makes me want to run away.

  • NormT

    Plus Toyota and Honda have newly redesigns. While they wind down their last designs before EV. GM will introduce 20 new EVs through 20 2023.

  • Infinite1

    Kudos to Toyota, now debut the Supra already

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