The Camry as we now know it is soon to end production … but it’ll live on here until early next year.
WHILE Toyota’s assembly plant outside Melbourne will cease operation in just four weeks, the New Zealand franchise has enough examples of its key product, the Camry, to ensure a smooth transition to a next-generation car early in 2018.
So says Toyota New Zealand in response to news today that the front-drive medium sedan, which comes out of Altona in hybrid and orthodox four-cylinder petrol form, will issue in a special swansong petrol-electric edition.
However, the special commemorative edition version of what Toyota Australia is calling its “most significant locally assembled car” are not for this country.
Palmerston North-based TNZ has stated that all the run of 54 cars – one for each year that Toyota product has been built in Australia – are staying across the Tasman.
“We are not getting any commemorative models here in New Zealand of the Camry,” product manager Spencer Morris told MotoringNetwork.
He also suggested that it will be business as usual for the current edition Camry when the Altona plant closes on October 3.
“We have secured supply of existing models to take us through to the first quarter of 2018, when we intend to launch the new model which will be produced in Japan.”
That’s only Camry; TNZ has made no mention of what it plans for the Aurion, a six-cylinder Australian special developed off the Camry platform but only built in Australia for transtasman consumption.
Production of that car ended several weeks ago. The model has struggled to make impact here for years, being an early victim of the downturn in large sedan sales. Year-to-date registrations data suggest a handful have been sold this year at best. Toyota Japan has made clear that it will not have a replacement for the Aurion.
When Toyota shuts the door, just Holden will be left in the car-making game across the Tasman – but only for a further fortnight. The Adelaide factory that makes the Commodore is closing in mid-October.
The Toyota factory will put 2500 staff out of work, but it is conjected that two suppliers – one that makes car seats and another that specialises in air-conditioning units and ignition systems – will also pull the pin.
Toyota New Zealand is the country’s biggest seller of new vehicles, with 26,725 registrations last year, the majority of which were passenger cars.
However, while the Camry was the country’s most popular medium sedan in 2016, it only claimed around 700 registrations within that much-diminished category. The Aurion count was much smaller still.
Neither model made the top 15 passenger count last year and do not appear to have gained ground since; the only Toyotas in the top 15 to date this year have been the Yaris, RAV4 and Corolla. The latter was the top-selling passenger model of last year, with RAV4 as runnerup, and has been the brand’s best-selling passenger product so far this year. It also topped the August charts.
Toyota’s best-selling vehicle is the Hilux utility, which achieved commercial sector dominance in August.
The new Camry is actually not so new – insofar that it was revealed at the start of this year, at the Detroit motor show.
Back then Morris suggested switchover would deliver even more emphasis on the model’s hybrid drivetrain, in acknowledgement that environmental issues are coming even more to the fore in NZ motoring.
The new car promises new styling with greater showroom appeal, a dynamic new platform and a more engaging drive - and also now provisions, in every NZ-bound form, with a pre-collision safety system that incorporates automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, radar cruise control and pedestrian detection.
It nonetheless maintains consistency in respect to the engine choices, with no plug-in electric edition yet being discussed. Toyota’s determination to push forward with its well-established nickel hydride Hybrid Synergy Drive soft hybrid setup, which allows for an electric motor to assist the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine rather than take over from it for prolonged driving, means it doesn’t figure in Government’s EV strategy, which only has interest in pure electrics or PHEV product.
All three announced engines are in line for NZ introduction – the others being an orthodox 2.5-litre four-cylinder and a 3.5-litre V6, both in marriage with an eight-speed paddleshift automatic.