SALZBURG, Austria -- Toyota has delayed the redesigned Corolla for U.S. showrooms a year, until spring 2008.
The delay is surprising because Toyota adheres to a disciplined redesign schedule. The current Corolla will be on the market six years, not the typical five.
The Corolla was delayed because the automaker's engineers were stretched too thin by many other product introductions, says Dave Danzer, group vice president of planning and development for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
Toyotas U.S. sales arm was chosen to receive its version of the redesigned Corolla after the Japanese and European markets, Danzer said.
But one analyst says Toyota was caught off guard by the stylish 2006 Honda Civic.
"Some people within Toyota want to make their cars more edgy," says Jim Hall, an AutoPacific analyst in Southfield, Mich. "The delay gives these people the opportunity to counter the more conservative Toyota contingent and do a car more in tune with the U.S. market."
Toyota does not need to rush a redesign to market, says Jim Lentz, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales. He and Danzer spoke at a press event here.
Shoppers seeking high-mileage vehicles boosted Corolla sales to 132,182 in the first six months of 2006, up 7.4 percent from the same period of 2005, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Those numbers do not include sales of the Matrix hatchback, a Corolla sibling. Toyota says it sold 197,303 Corollas through June, of which about 26,000 were of the Matrix.
We sold 40,000 Corollas last month, Lentz said. Our incentives are less than $500 a car. Its not as though the current Corolla is a problem.
Lentz added that Toyota likely would redesign the Matrix, although there were rumors the car would be killed off.
There is a real need for Matrix, especially one with more aggressive styling Lentz said. We need Matrix to draw Scion buyers to the Toyota brand, to make it a car equivalent of the FJ Cruiser.
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