Toyota’s Lentz Vows to Keep Camry’s Lead Over Accord, Fusion


Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Camry, the
best-selling car in the U.S. for 11 straight years, will keep
its lead in 2013 over competing midsize sedans from Honda Motor
Co. (7267)
and Ford Motor Co. (F), Toyota’s U.S. sales chief said.

Deliveries of Camry, redesigned in late 2011, rose 31
percent last year to 404,886, the highest in four years. Sales
will increase in 2013 if U.S. auto demand rises at the same pace
of recent months, Jim Lentz said in an interview yesterday at
the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

“It will remain No. 1, and I still think there’s
possibility for growth in the segment,” Lentz said. “There’s
plenty of room for Honda to grow into it, for Ford to grow into
it, and for us to maintain our volumes as well.”

Toyota is working to increase U.S. deliveries by about
6 percent to 2.2 million Toyota, Lexus and Scion brand autos in
2013, up from 2.08 million last year. Camry’s gains came amid an
18 percent increase in midsize car sales, the market’s biggest
segment, to 3.59 million units, according to Autodata Corp.

Both Honda’s Accord and Ford’s Fusion will be particularly
tough competitors this year, Lentz said. Those and other new
midsize models are expanding the size of the market, he said.

“It’s a much bigger pie that more manufacturers can get
much bigger volume in,” he said.

Enough Capacity

Toyota has enough production capacity to stay ahead of
segment competitors, said Alan Baum, principal of auto-industry
researcher Baum Associates in West Bloomfield, Michigan.

“It’s still new enough, and has a bigger owner base than
the others, and that gives it an advantage,” Baum said in an
interview. “It’s important to Toyota that Camry hold that spot,
and it will work to keep it.”

While Honda doesn’t have a goal for Accord to surpass Camry
in U.S. deliveries, doing so is not “inconceivable,” said John Mendel, Honda’s U.S. executive vice president.

“We’re not targeting outselling Camry,” Mendel said today
in an interview in Detroit. The Tokyo-based company’s North
American plants are able to further increase production of
Accords, now built in Marysville, Ohio, “if the demand were
there,” he said, without elaborating.

Accord deliveries grew 41 percent to 331,872 last year,
making it the second-biggest seller after Camry. Ford’s Fusion
sales fell 2.7 percent to 241,263 as the Dearborn, Michigan-
based company shifted to a redesigned model toward year-end.

Camry’s base of at least 5 million current customers and
the success of the car’s last redesign keep it in a strong
position, Lentz said.

“There’s plenty of room for that to continue to satisfy
existing loyal Camry buyers and conquest other buyers.”

Toyota City, Japan-based Toyota’s U.S. sales unit is based
in Torrance, California. The company’s American depositary
fell 0.4 percent to $96.43 at the close in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Alan Ohnsman in Detroit at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jamie Butters at

Lentz Says Hybrids Toyota Best Growth Opportunity

Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) — Jim Lentz, U.S. sales chief for Toyota Motor Corp., talks about the automaker’s marketing strategy and the potential for hybrid vehicles to boost Toyota’s sales.
He speaks with Matt Miller at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” (Source: Bloomberg)

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