Toyota to do whatever it takes to keep Camry on top

Article by Anita Panait, on July 2, 2013

For 11 years in a row, the Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in the United States. However, the car is facing a much tougher competition this year, and Toyota's executives have received instructions to retain the Camry's title whatever it takes. Less than two years into its model cycle, Toyota is already increasing incentives and trimming fleet deals to allow its best-selling car in the US retain its title.

Toyota Division General Manager Bill Fay told Automotive News an e-mail that they will do "what is necessary to get the vehicle into the hands of new and loyal customers," adding that incentives on the Camry will remain as "competitive as they need to be."

Of the four best-selling mid-sized sedans in the US, the Camry is the only one with increased incentive spending in 2013, although the other three were already in sell-down mode at this time in 2012. Toyota has increased its incentive spending per unit on the Camry this year from $2,300 in January to $2,750 in May, according to TrueCar.

Toyota's fleet deals this year are so far growing at a faster rate than in 2012, when the carmaker benefited from good sales to fleet customers who had wait out inventory shortages in 2011 due to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in that year. This situation has caused concerns among some Toyota insiders about the impact on the Camry nameplate's long-term value.

The Camry's 36-month residual value is near the top of the segment, at 54.4 percent for the 2013 model year, according to ALG. Some Toyota insiders have expressed concerns that continued incentives and fleet deals could cause Camry's value go down. According to the insiders, sales meetings typically include discussion over the possible trade-offs of the Camry giving up its sales lead to preserve its residual values.

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