Toyota Motor Corp. is pulling the plug on the Venza crossover, a vehicle the automaker once touted as engineered in America for American buyers.
The Venza shares its underpinnings with the Toyota Camry, the country’s best-selling car. Venza had a solid first year in 2009, but its sales have mainly trended downward since then and last year totaled just 29,991 units — about as many as Camrys as Toyota sells in a single month.
The crossover is made at Toyota’s massive plant in Georgetown, Ky., but production will cease for U.S.-market vehicles in June, the company said in a statement. Production of Venzas for export will end in September 2017.
The move comes as the Georgetown plant gears up to begin building the Lexus ES sedan later this year. The ES will be the first Lexus assembled in the U.S. and is sure to hit much higher production figures than the Venza. Georgetown also produces the Camry, the Avalon large sedan and their hybrid variants. The plant employs 7,300 people.
Engineered at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Venza was intended to give the automaker a midsize crossover that offered buyers the space and versatility of an SUV but with a more wagonlike profile. It was hailed as a product of a U.S. engineering operation steeped in American automotive taste.
“It’s a good car but was never a stellar feller,” said David Griffith, owner of a Toyota dealership in The Dalles, Ore.
Toyota sold 54,410 Venzas in 2009, a peak it never regained. In January, Toyota sold just 2,105 Venzas.