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Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Toyota U.S. sales rose 27 percent last year, thanks in part to strong sales of its recently expanded Prius lineup and the Camry sedan.

Now, Toyota is turning his attention to the Corolla, Toyota’s dated small car.

Corolla Concept

Corolla Concept Car

The company unveiled a concept version at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week showing hints of a radical styling change for the Corolla.

The company must now decide how edgy it can go with the Corolla’s styling, to win over new customers, without losing longtime buyers.

U. S. Chief, Jim Lentz stated this week that over the past two difficult years, “I don’t think we’ve lost existing buyers. I think we had a slowdown in conquests (from other brands). Very shortly after the recalls, our loyal buyers – partly because of the great treatment they received from our dealers through all this – very quickly came back to the brand because they understood there were not issues with the electronics in our cars. Those that didn’t have an experience with us, either with a product or our dealers, weren’t quite sure what to believe.”

Lentz went on to say, “Last year, 40 percent of our sales were new products. This year we’re going to have another nine new or redesigned vehicles. I think that will continue to bring the conquest buyers back. Are we back to the level where we were prior to all the crises? Not yet. But we’re approaching that.”


Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Toyota President Akio Toyoda is ordering engineers and designers to spice up the brand’s bland image with exciting new cars. “I want a car that shows what we are aiming for, toyota mr2 hybridsomething affordable, fun to drive and good for the environment,” Toyoda said. He references the MR2 hybrid sports car concept as the kind of product he expects from a new focus on exciting fun.

The 400-horsepower MR2 hybrid is based on the MR2 platform that was nixed from the U.S. market in 2005. When Toyota unveiled the MR2 Sports Hybrid Concept at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January, observers gave it a zero percent chance of being produced.

The MR2 Sports Hybrid Concept combines a 3.3-liter V6, used to drive the rear wheels through a continuously variable transmission, and an electric motor for the front wheels. The concept has an estimated zero-to-60 time under 4.5 seconds.


Mr. Toyoda’s desire for pizazz, excitement, and power, plus economy helps explain why he decided to team up with Tesla Motors. The partnership between Tesla and Toyota creates high-power excitement, but it’s too early to tell as to how product development will advance.

Putting resources into producing M2-like hybrid excitement or co-producing an EV with Tesla could represent a shift in direction, as Toyota reshapes its image after a season of global safety recalls. Creating exciting visionary new products can be great. But the company doesn’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The auto market (and the world) needs mass-market high-efficiency vehicles that meet the needs of everyday drivers.  Their projected One million hybrids per year: Well, there’s nothing bland about that.