Toyota Revamps Camry’s Looks to Sustain U.S. Car-Volume Edge

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) showed off a reworked Camry that sports deeper-stamped body panels and a modified cabin as the world’s largest automaker works to keep its benchmark sedan the U.S. market’s best-selling car.

The 2015 Camry, restyled halfway through its model life, is “rebuilt from the ground up” with about 2,000 new parts and only the roof shared with the current car, Toyota said yesterday at the New York International Auto Show. Sales of the sedan, which also has a new interior look and materials and more welds for sportier handling, will start in the third quarter, Toyota said.

“It is absolutely the most thorough mid-cycle refresh I’ve seen from Toyota,” Ed Kim, an industry analyst for researcher AutoPacific Inc., said yesterday after the car’s unveiling. “This goes far above and beyond what they normally do.”

Fierce competition in the U.S. mid-size car market has expanded Camry’s traditional rivalry with Honda Motor Co. (7267)’s Accord to include Ford Motor Co.’s more stylish Fusion, Nissan Motor Co.’s revamped Altima and Hyundai Motor Co. (005380)’s Sonata. Those vehicles have increased the difficulty for Toyota to extend Camry’s run as the best-selling U.S. car for a 13th consecutive year in 2014.

Toyota has targeted sales of at least 400,000 Camrys this year, in line with the model’s volume in 2012 and 2013. First-quarter deliveries totaled 94,283, down 6.5 percent from a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp.

2015 Camry

The reworked Camry has more contoured body panels, a new front grille design and lights and a look closer to the Toyota City, Japan-based company’s Lexus sedans.

“This is the best Camry we’ve ever built,” Bill Fay, group vice president for the Toyota Division, said yesterday in New York.

Hyundai, which began cutting into Camry’s volume in 2010 when it redesigned Sonata, also showed a reworked version of its U.S. top seller yesterday in New York. In a break with Seoul-based Hyundai’s push for edgy styling in recent years, the 2015 Sonata smooths out the swoopy lines for a more restrained look.

“All the styling change in the mid-size segment seems to be a reaction to what the Sonata did, and now the Sonata, the latest one, just kind of blends in,” Kim said.

The company’s American depositary receipts fell 0.4 percent to $108.02 at the close in New York. They have declined 11 percent this year.

Toyota’s U.S. sales unit is based in Torrance, California.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in New York at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net Niamh Ring, James Callan

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