Is Camry the new 'old folks' car?

The Toyota Camry is one of the most successful cars in the U.S., having outsold all other sedans since 1997. But can it sustain its crown? Ted Evanoff of the Indianapolis Star writes that the vehicle may be suffering an image problem.

"Younger people see the Camry as an older person's car,'' says Art Spinella, an automotive analysts. "It certainly isn't a youth-market vehicle. That's really Toyota's core problem.''

The average age of Camry buyers is 52, ten years higher than buyers of the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. Worse, the world's second largest automaker is facing new rivals such as Hyundai, Kia and future ones like the Chinese automakers. Toyota has General Motor's Buick brand as an example of what can happen when a particular brand's reputation falls. However, states Spinella, "The difference between what Detroit goes through and what Toyota goes through is that for every single problem Toyota has, they put a team on to fix it. Detroit pretends it doesn't exist.''

The revamped Camry is part of Toyota's strategy to 'fix' the sedan's reputation (and sales). Yet, at the same time, the automaker continues to appeal to the younger market with its Scion division and more non-traditional vehicles like the FJ Cruiser. The company's management figures that eventually such buyers will trade up to a Camry, perhaps when they're 52.

[Source: Indianapolis Star]

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