Toyota Aims For Return To Top, Eyes Hyundai Sonata


Well, it’s very much a case of can’t ignore any more, and making no bones about it at that – a report says that Toyota’s new seventh-generation Camry definitely has the Hyundai Sonata very much in its sight as the Japanese carmaker aims to get back on top.

The Camry has been the top-selling passenger vehicle in the US for nine years, with annual sales in the market poised at the 300,000 to 400,000-unit mark over the past decade, a figure good enough to account for around 20% of Toyota’s sales there. Of course, being the king means only one thing – there’s always going to be a slew of contenders looking to topple you. Among them has been the Sonata, which has emerged as a strong contender over the past year or so, aided by a weak Korean won.

The March 11 earthquake that hit Japan also hit the Camry, changing the run of play. While in 2009, the Sonata sold just one-third as many units as the Camry did, in May this year it managed to finally outsell the Camry, which suffered supply shortages as a result of the disaster.

Slated to enter the market in October, the new Camry is anticipated to bring the title back to Toyota. Still, the company isn’t hiding the fact that it has responded to the Sonata’s challenge very seriously, the Nikkei report adds.

Toyota’s engineers went over the Sonata with a fine-toothed comb, with one stating that the Hyundai’s “interior offers an outstanding touch of luxury for its price.” Sources within the company added that just before the decision was made to begin production of the new Camry, requests came about for design changes, with the Sonata very much in mind.

The Japanese automaker also had its American engineers evaluate the new North American-based model from the prototype stage. And Toyota president, Akio Toyoda, even went so far as to test-drive the new Camry again and again. “We’re rolling this out with 100% confidence,” he was quoted as saying. Well, looks like they worked very hard to be absolutely sure about that.

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