Toyota Camry saw US lead shrank, but is set to retain sales crown

Article by Christian A., on December 4, 2013

The Toyota Camry is almost sure to post its 12th straight year of dominance in the United States this year as 30,386 units of the sedan were sold in November and 378,520 units in the first 11 months of 2013. Its closest challenger, the Honda Accord, was behind by 44,163 units so far this year. In comparison, in the same point in 2012, Camry led the Accord by 71,035.

The figures indicate that the Camry is facing tougher and stiffer competition from rival units, who are doing everything they can to unseat Toyota’s best-selling product. In face of that, Toyota Motor Sales USA executives have said that they would also do everything needed to have the Camry retain its US crown – which has so far included what is said to be bigger-than-usual incentives and discounts.

While execs at Ford cited Toyota as aggressive in terms of incentives in the mid-sized segment in November, the Japanese carmaker says its offers were largely unchanged.

“Pretty much consistent to what we’ve been doing all year. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary,” according to Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president. He remarked that they continue to look at incentives as very tactical, noting that they have regionalized their incentive approach to maximize their efficiency.

According to Toyota, around a quarter of its November sales occurred in the last four days of the month, saying that sales over the long Thanksgiving weekend surged significantly from a year ago. Sales surged by 10 percent for the Toyota Motor Corp. and for the Toyota division in November while Lexus sales climbed 13 percent.

Toyota remarked that during the month, it logged more retail sales than all other carmakers and that the Toyota division was the top retail brand in the period. “Showroom traffic surged over the holiday weekend for Toyota, indicating good momentum that we expect to continue through the end of the year and into 2014,” Fay said in a statement. Toyota is expected to rely once again on the annual Toyotathon sale event and Lexus’ “December to Remember” ad campaign to boost sales during the holiday season this month.

Toyota revealed that while the new Camry Hybrid will continue to have its Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, this new model will mark the introduction of the highly revised version. This will include a 4-cylinder 2.5-0liter engine. As such, it allows the 2012 Camry Hybrid LE to have an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency city rating of 43 mpg. Highway meanwhile is estimated at 39 mpg with combined rating measured to be 41 mpg. Compared to the generation before it, the city, as well as the combined rating, the driving cycles are better by 30%.

This is not only because of the new powertrain fitted inside but the fact that the aerodynamics has been optimized and the brand made sure that the weight would be lighter. As mentioned, the new generation will have the 2.5-liter engine which serves to replace the 2.4-liter one. This new engine utilizes the Atkinson cycle, which refers to the delayed intake-valve closing in order for the expansion ratio to be larger versus the compression ratio. The engine is therefore able to attain maximum efficiency. The new engine will also have the Variable Valve Timing with intelligence system, or VVT-i. Placed on the intake camshaft, it allows the torque to be increased on a level that is greater than the previous engine.

Additional features, all aimed at lowering the internal friction to increase fuel economy, are the variable-output oil pump, roller-rocker type valve train, and the electric water pump. An interesting component of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system is the distinct transaxle which allows the system to deliver the output of a 4-cylinder engine and mix it with that of a high-torque small electric motor. Overall, the system allows for a combined 200 hp. In addition, it varies the power from the electric motor and the gas engine, or even combines them, when the situation calls for it.

Further, the addition of an exhaust gas recirculation system (ERG), one that is water-cooled, results in the new model having the lowest of possible emissions, no matter what the speed may be. It also helps enhance the fuel efficiency. What the system does is to both control and cool the exhaust gas that is injected into each of the cylinders. Because of this, it removes any need to add to the air-fuel mixture as a way to control the cylinder temperatures.

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