Japan's love for SUVs and minivans has sealed the Camry's fate.
In yet another sign that times are tough for sedans, the Toyota Camry is set to be discontinued in its domestic Japanese market after 43 years. According to Nikkei Asia, Toyota has notified dealers in Japan that production of the Camry will stop at the end of this year, although the Camry will continue to be exported to markets where it remains popular. Sales in Japan will gradually end in phases, but Toyota has already stopped taking most new orders for the Camry in the Asian nation.
In the United States, the mid-size Camry remains very popular, being the only sedan to crack the top five in model sales in 2022 with over 295,000 units sold. In Japan, around 1.3 million Camrys have been sold since the sedan debuted there in 1980.
Japan's cumulative Camry sales trail the 13 million or so that have been sold in the USA through the years; in 2021, the 10 millionth Camry rolled off the production line in the USA. Along with the Corolla, the Camry is a global strategic model for what was the world's best-selling car brand in 2022.
Although about 600,000 Camrys were sold globally last year, sales have gradually dwindled in Japan. Not helped by the semiconductor chip crisis, Toyota sold fewer than 6,000 Camrys in its domestic market last year.
While Japan shares America's affection for SUVs, minivans are also extremely popular there, and these two vehicle types have contributed to the demise of the three-box sedan in that market. The Honda Legend, Japan's version of the Acura RLX, was also discontinued not long ago.
Although Toyota continues to sell many sedans, it does sting that one of its long-running nameplates is close to meeting its end in its home market. Still, the company continues to invest in sedans, with the flagship Crown taking the place of the Avalon.
We may not have seen the best of the Camry yet, though. Last year, rumors began circulating of a GR Camry, which doesn't actually seem farfetched when you consider the popularity of the sporty Camry TRD in this market. Comments from one of the brand's engineers seem to have killed off that hope, though.
And, at some stage, Toyota will need a fully electric player in the mid-size sedan segment, with the automaker saying it wants to begin producing EVs in America by 2025. With its EV nomenclature using the 'bZ' format, this could see the Camry nameplate ultimately being dropped.
While the beloved mid-size sedan is safe in America for now, we can't help but feel that Japan's move is the beginning of the end for the Camry.
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