Toyota’s Camry is a popular and well-loved model among car enthusiasts in the United States, known for its reliability, affordability, and high performance. However, despite its success in the US, the Camry has never been a top seller in Japan. The recent announcement by Toyota that it is ending the Camry’s sales in Japan by the end of 2023 has raised questions among car enthusiasts about why the Camry has struggled to find a foothold in the Japanese market.
As the Camry is set to be phased out of Toyota’s Japanese lineup by the end of the year, most Japanese dealers have already stopped placing new orders for it. The Camry nameplate has been a popular model in Toyota’s home country for 43 years. Although it remains among the best-selling cars in the US, the decline in sales in Japan can be attributed to a number of factors.
Firstly, Toyota offered Japanese buyers more appealing options, such as the Crown and Mark X sedans. These models had rear-wheel drive and were more appealing to Japanese buyers who value handling and performance. The Camry was Toyota’s first front-wheel-drive model with a transversely mounted engine, which was not as appealing to Japanese buyers.
Moreover, the Camry’s lack of popularity in Japan was also due to its wider dimensions, which put it in a higher category for road taxes, making it more expensive than similar models. Additionally, the Japanese Camrys were only offered with four-cylinder engines from 2001 onwards, and from 2011, only as a hybrid, which was not enough to stand out in a market saturated with hybrids.
Furthermore, the Camry’s decline in Japan can also be attributed to the changing market trends toward SUVs. While sedans remain popular in the US, the Japanese market has shifted towards SUVs and crossovers, which are more popular due to their practicality, versatility, and perceived safety. The recent discontinuation of the Mark X, Toyota’s other sedan model in Japan, and the transformation of the Crown into a quasi-crossover lifted sedan, is a clear indication of Toyota’s shift towards SUVs.
The Camry’s discontinuation in Japan highlights Toyota’s strategic shift away from sedans and towards SUVs. The decision to end the Camry’s sales in Japan is likely due to its declining sales and the shift in Japanese consumer preferences. Despite its discontinuation in Japan, the Camry will continue to be sold in over 100 other countries, including the US, where it remains a popular model.