After surviving the massive recall of its products two years ago and the impact of last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Toyota Motor Corp. is now facing the tough competition for its franchise vehicle, the Camry family sedan. The Camry is the best-selling mid-size automobile in the United States for the past decade.
However, it is facing new family-sedan competition this year from Nissan Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG, which have boosted their production of family cars, creating a very tough and competitive mid-size vehicle market even for a dominant franchise such as the Camry.
Family vehicles comprise 15 percent of the U.S. market, and they’re considered to be a significant way to tap new buyers and retain them in their brands for years beyond the first purchase. Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of Edmunds.com, commented that nothing like this has ever been seen before. Edmunds.com is an automotive research website based in Santa Monica, California. Anwyl added that they had seen competition with two or three new models, but not seven or eight competitive vehicles rivaling each other.
This year, Ford introduces the new Fusion sedan, with two hybrid variants. GM's Chevrolet division commenced deliveries for the refurbished Malibu this month. Meanwhile, Honda revealed a coupe variant of its Accord at the Detroit car show this week. The automaker will put the vehicle for sale later this year. Nissan will also be launching a new Altima as well.
Moreover, Kia has added a third shift to its U.S. facility in order to boost production of the Optima sedan. Last year, Hyundai increased production at its Montgomery, Alabama, facility to 10 percent more than its official capacity. Volkswagen is running on full output at its $1 billion Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant that started producing Passat sedans last spring.