Toyota Plans Aggressive Camry Launch

Lower prices and a major marketing push are planned as the auto maker looks to protect its leadership in the midsize sedan market in the U.S.

David E. Zoia

August 23, 2011

3 Min Read
Toyota Plans Aggressive Camry Launch


DEARBORN, MI – Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. is taking the gloves off in launching its revamped ’12 model Camry sedan, slashing prices on most models and planning its biggest marketing campaign since it rolled out a new Tundra pickup in 2007.

The Camry, the best-selling car in the U.S. for the last nine years, is getting set to do battle in a much more competitive midsize-sedan market against a new Chevrolet Malibu for ʼ13, Hyundai’s hot-selling Sonata and critically acclaimed Ford Fusion.

ʼ12 Camry up to $2,000 less than outgoing model.

The ʼ12 model, which features a carryover platform but all-new sheetmetal and other significant changes, will be priced up to $2,000 less than a comparable ’11 car, but feature more content, as Toyota looks to hold its ground.

Although the base L model goes up $710 to $21,955, Toyota is cutting LE prices $200 to $22,500 and slashing SE stickers $1,000 to $23,000.

The XLE base is being cut $2,000 to $24,725 and the Hybrid model will start at $27,400, down $1,150. Destination charges add $760 to the bottom lines.

“We expect Camry to continue to be the U.S.’s top-selling car,” Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager-Toyota Div., says in introducing the new model from Hollywood in a broadcast simulcast here and in New York and at the Georgetown, KY, plant, where Job One for the new model was launched today.

Carter says 9.7 million Camry midsize cars have been sold in North America since the line was launched in 1983.

Toyota will follow up the aggressive pricing with a marketing campaign Tim Morrison, corporate manger-marketing communications, says will cost more than the auto maker’s spend to rollout the current-generation Tundra that repositioned Toyota in the fullsize-pickup sector nearly five years ago.

Advertising will get under way on Oct. 17, two weeks after the car’s official on-sale date of Oct. 3. Hybrids will go on sale about 30 days later.

Morrison says four spots are planned initially, including one focused on the car overall, one zeroing in on the hybrid model, a third pegged to the sporty SE version and a final ad that touts the Entune entertainment system.

The Camry will make another splash during the National Football League’s Super Bowl broadcast on NBC, with two commercial spots and sponsorship of the halftime show.

The new model also should garner some attention as the pace car for the Daytona 500 in February, executives say.

Additionally, Toyota is launching a social-media campaign, dubbed “The Camry Effect,” that encourages current Camry owners to tell the story of their cars on a dedicated website.

“We’ve got 6.8 million owners out there,” Morrison says. “We’re asking them to tell their stories – of their first kiss in a Camry, or whatever – and bridge the gap from the old model to the new one.

“We may have spent more on the Tundra TV advertising,” he says. “But when you add in everything, TV, social media, etc., this is a bigger launch.”

Jim Colon, vice president-product communications, says he expects the rollout to go smoothly.

“We think we’ll ramp up (production) quickly,” he says. “We have less than a 30-day supply of the current model now, so we’re having a very orderly sell-down.”

The bulk of sales will be 4-cyl. models at about 47% of sales, not including the SE, Colon says. V-6s should account for about 14% and hybrid models, 11%. The SE, including both 4- and 6-cyl. versions, should draw about 20% of sales and the base L model, 8%.

Currently, Camry owners average 60 years old, but Colon says he expects that to drop as the sporty SE model pulls in younger buyers “looking for styling and performance.”

Early dealer orders have the Entune entertainment system that pairs with the driver’s smartphone running at about a 40% installation rate, but Colon says he hopes to see that figure rise. Pricing for the optional system has not been released.

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