Toyota thinks pink to brighten frumpy facade
|Hans Greimel is Asia editor for Automotive News.|
Editor's note: Corrected to change the month sales begin, in second paragraph.
TOKYO -- If Toyota chief Akio Toyoda wants to make more head-turning cars, he'll certainly succeed with this one.
In September, Toyota will start selling a hot pink Toyota Crown -- a top end Japan sedan typically favored by the over-50 set, mid-cap corporate executives and livery companies, and habitually fielded in a pulse-quelling hearse-black finish.
It's a big gambit for a 14th-generation nameplate that usually elicits yawns from onlookers, if they notice it at all.
Toyota Motor Corp. is taking orders only from Sept. 1-30, and only in Japan. So act fast if you look pretty in pink.
The electric-fuchsia Crown actually debuted last November to shock the public into noticing the redesign. Toyota's designers also outfitted the latest redo with a huge Darth Vader grille.
The grille stayed. But the color was supposed to be a one-off.
At the redesign launch event, Toyoda feigned embarrassment at the flamboyant flamingo parked next to him on stage.
In truth, the car symbolized Toyoda's personal directive to his stylists to take more risks with polarizing designs.
"My initial reaction was: 'You're kidding! Please, not pink,'" he told reporters. "But being reborn does mean new challenges."
The pink Crown later appeared in a line of Japanese TV commercials featuring French actor Jean Reno.
But after much public shock and awe, Toyota sees another way to make green from pink: actually put the car on sale.
It will offer magenta paint jobs on two versions of the Crown Athlete G series, one with a hybrid powertrain, the other a V-6.
The V-6 starts at 5,130,000 yen ($51,400). Customers will have to pay extra to indulge their passion for pink, but Toyota won't announce how much more until closer to the start of orders.
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