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