Despite reporting an 11% boost in its quarterly profits, Toyota is apparently looking to cull a few underperforming models from its lineup. Toyota’s North American CEO Jim Lentz is quoted in Automotive News as saying, “We are taking a hard look at all of the segments that we compete in to make sure we are competing in profitable segments and that products we sell have strategic value.”
In all likelihood, this means sweeping a number of slower-selling passenger cars from dealers’ showrooms.
As with most other automakers these days, Toyota is selling far more trucks and SUVs than it does sedans and coupes. While 63% of its U.S. sales were passenger cars a decade ago, today they account for only 38% of its volume.
Though we don’t expect Toyota to get out of the automobile business altogether, or at least not as drastically as Ford is planning (retaining only the Mustang moving forward), there are some easy guesses as to which models will stay and which will be sent packing.
For starters, Toyota is not likely to ditch either the midsize Camry or compact Corolla. Both are hallowed nameplates and though they’ve have lost some market share, they remain top sellers. Only the compact RAV4 crossover SUV outpaces either of them among Toyota’s U.S. offerings.
Subcompact cars in particular have fallen far out of favor among U.S. buyers of late, and it’s no exception at Toyota. That means we can expect the tiny Mazda2-based Yaris hatchback and sedan models to disappear perhaps sooner rather than later. Toyota dealers delivered only 1,455 units last month, and sales are down by 38.2% so far this year, so it’s not likely the Yaris will be sorely missed.
While the Toyota Prius hybrid sedan is down by 22.3% though the end of October, the midsize fuel economy champ will likely remain. Having already canceled the slow-selling Prius V wagon, the subcompact Prius C hybrid, with only 532 units sold in October, is likely to suffer the same fate.
There’s a chance Toyota might also eventually drop the full-size Avalon sedan, as U.S. buyers are abandoning big four-door cars with, well, wild abandon. Recently redesigned, Avalon is up by 3.6% so far this year, though Toyota has sold over 11 times more Camrys so far in 2018.
An obvious target for cancellation is the low-slung Toyota 86 sports coupe. Formerly sold as the Scion FR-S, it was developed as part of a joint venture with Subaru, which markets a near twin as the BRZ. Critics lauded its crisp handing abilities, though most regard it as being underpowered. Sales decelerated by 40.6% through the first 10 months of the year, and amounted for a paltry 335 units in October. Toyota will be unveiling a reborn version of the fondly remembered Supra sports coupe at January’s North American International Auto Show as its new “halo car,” and it could well replace the FR-S on showroom floors.
On the Lexus side of the ledger sheet, we’d guess the brand’s top-selling car – the ES sedan – would be safe, even with sales off by 8.8% so far this year. It’s only outsold in the line by the RX crossover SUV, though that’s by a two-to-one margin. The large LS flagship sedan is also likely safe, as it’s just been redesigned. While its volume remains relatively low, LS sales jumped by 144.8% in October and are 118% ahead of last year’s pace thus far.
The midsize Lexus GS sports sedan could be vulnerable, with its sales having dropped by 33% in October. That amounts to just 387 units on the month. The compact IS sports sedan is off by 11.4% over the first 10 months of the year, but will probably continue to secure a spot in Lexus showrooms as the brand’s BMW 3-Series fighter.
Finally, while the costly LC sports coupe is Lexus’ lowest volume car, with only 1,688 units sold so far this year, we suspect the smaller RC coupe might be more vulnerable moving forward. RC sales fell by 52.3% over the first 10 months of 2018 and are down by 75.5% in October.
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