At the same time, Toyota realizes the importance of meeting demand for light trucks after getting caught flat-footed with too many cars and not enough crossovers or pickups.
After moving the Prius, Camry, Avalon and Corolla hatchback to new unibody architectures, it’s now focused on crossovers such as the 2017 utility-vehicle sales champ, the RAV4, which is getting big changes when its next generation arrives in December.
Jack Hollis, general manager of the Toyota brand in the U.S., sees the redesigned RAV4 as part of a growing family. There’s a beefier all-wheel-drive version and a repositioned sporty hybrid.
The new platform, a version of the Toyota New Global Architecture, could be stretched into a niche segment based on the FT-AC concept from last year.
Perhaps even more radical for conservative Toyota, it’s finally making a bigger bet on pickup trucks. It has added capacity for the Tacoma midsize pickup at a plant in Baja California, Mexico, and is building a Tacoma plant in central Mexico. That also will free up capacity for the full-size Tundra.
But the combined volume of the Tundra and segment-leading Tacoma still lags the crown jewel of Toyota’s U.S. lineup: the seemingly unbeatable, unflappable Camry. Camry sales rose 2 percent in the first five months of this year. It’s the only one of the 10 top-selling midsize cars to post an increase in 2018.
The rest of the segment is down 21 percent.