Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) began selling a redesigned Crown, its oldest sedan still in production, today in Japan in a bid to boost sales that have tumbled more than 75 percent in the past two decades.
The 14th-generation Crown starts at 3.53 million yen ($41,600), the company, Asia’s biggest carmaker, said in a statement today. The sedan has a 2.5-liter hybrid engine, compared with a 3.5-liter hybrid engine for the current model.
Toyota targets deliveries of 4,000 of the sedans a month in Japan, according to the statement, compared with sales averaging 17,000 a month in 1990. The model is known in the country for its use as a company limousine and for police and government officials.
“To attract people to the car today, we had to redesign it,” President Akio Toyoda told reporters today in Tokyo.
The Crown remained Toyota’s flagship luxury car in Japan after it introduced the Lexus in the U.S. in 1989 to compete with Daimler AG’s Mercedes and Bayerische Motoren Werke Ag. Toyota brought Lexus to Japan in 2005. The make was the top- selling luxury car brand in the U.S. for 11 years until it was unseated by BMW last year.
Toyota fell 0.1 percent, paring its gain this year to 47 percent, to 3,780 yen in Tokyo trading today. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average increased 1.4 percent, bringing its advance this year to 19 percent.
“Among Japanese seniors, the Crown still symbolizes luxury, and still carries the image as the CEO’s car,” said Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai-Ichi Life Insurance Research Institute.
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