Toyota's Refusal To Abandon Sedans Is Paying Off Big Time

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The numbers don't lie.

Look at the lineups of Ford, General Motors, and FCA today and you'll notice they all have one thing in common: an almost complete absence of sedans. Ford famously announced over two years ago its plans to drop traditional sedans from its North American lineup while some of GM's once heavy hitters, like the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse, have also been discontinued. FCA, meanwhile, still sells the popular but aging Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, but nothing in the compact or mid-size segments. And then there's Toyota.

Like other Asian automakers, it's made the strategic decision to stick with sedans despite the growing popularity of crossovers. In an official statement, Toyota vice president of Marketing, Cynthia Tenhouse, was quite enthusiastic about the decision.

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"It's amazing how much of a demand there still is for sedans. We're expecting a 4 million-unit market for sedans in 2020. We're happy to take as much of that market as we can. For us, it represents roughly 750,000 in the U.S. That's more than some other OEMs sell altogether."

A closer examination of the sales numbers proves Toyota made the right call. Out of the 2.1 million vehicles Toyota sold last year, about 770,000 were sedans. Also in 2019, an impressive 31 percent of its existing sedan customers bought a new one. "Those are pretty good odds for us," she says. "It's clearly a segment we want to be in."

Another interesting statistic is that through February, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, sales of the Toyota Camry were up by 12.5 percent and the Camry Hybrid by 16.2 percent. Prius sales were even more impressive with a 29.7 percent gain. Nearly 35 percent of all Avalon purchases this year have been the hybrid variant.

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Toyota Corolla and Corolla Hybrid sales also remain strong, though precise figures were not provided. Another key reason why sedan interest remains high among Toyota customers is because of new special editions, features, and above all, configuration options. For example, "A Camry buyer has 17 different choices, from V6, 4-cylinder, hybrid, all-wheel drive, TRD, XLE, XSE, and others," Tenhouse says. "We're giving people more choices within each series."

Earlier this summer, the sporty Corolla Apex Edition and Avalon Nightshade Edition were revealed for the new model year. It's still too soon to know whether Ford made the right decision to cease sedan production, but Toyota knows when not to mess with success. It already has a strong foothold in the sedan market and customers keep returning.

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