Find or Sell any Parts for Your Vehicle in USA

Toyota future products: U.S. comeback effort fueled with product blitz

Fri, 19 Aug 2011

Toyota plans an onslaught of products in the next two years that will attempt to propel the brand back into a leadership position.

At least 10 new or redesigned products will arrive in dealerships by the end of next year.

A major change in Toyota's product development process involves lengthening the platform cadence. The former strategy called for a model redesign roughly every five years, with a slight fascia change after the third year. The new one may stretch the cycle to six years, but the midpoint will see more dramatic sheet metal changes and even powertrain upgrades.

Yaris: A redesigned Yaris, with more aggressive styling, comes this fall, delayed slightly by the earthquake that damaged the Iwate factory. The new version of the global subcompact rides on a 98.8-inch wheelbase, 2 inches longer than the current model.

A three-door and five-door hatch will be offered initially, and there are plans for a sedan. The new 98-hp 1.3-liter engine is offered overseas, but Toyota may stick with the 106-hp 1.5-liter engine for North America. Transmission choices will be a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission.

iQ EV: Toyota Division will get an electric version of the Scion iQ in 2012. But with a projected range of about 50 miles, it will be sold to commercial fleets with short routes and centralized charging systems.

Corolla: For the Corolla's last redesign, Toyota successfully extended the cadence from five to six years. It likely will do so again, making the 2012 model year freshening more than a mere fascia change. That would push a redesign to the spring of 2014. The redesigned Corolla's styling will be European-influenced and not follow the swoopy lines of the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus.

Matrix: Built in the busy Cambridge, Ontario, plant, the Matrix probably will be killed after the current generation.

Camry: Toyota isn't changing the recipe much with its fall 2012 Camry redesign. The dimensions will be similar to the current model, with carryover base four- and six-cylinder engines and exterior styling that could be called evolutionary. But Toyota has made big strides in improving the Camry's interior design and amenities. And the 2012 Toyota Camry hybrid version will have at least 200 hp.

Camry Solara: The Camry Solara coupe is dead and is not coming back.

Prius: A plug-in version is due in the summer of 2012 with a 14-mile battery-only range using a lithium ion battery pack. The nickel-metal-hydride battery likely will remain in the standard Prius until the vehicle is redesigned in the 2015 model year.

Prius C: The subcompact hybrid hatchback based on the Yaris platform will debut in the spring of 2012. Toyota went for sporty styling in an effort to make the hybrid hip for young buyers. Expect mileage to be better than the regular Prius--about 55 mpg--and for acceleration to be significantly better.

Prius V: This taller version of the Prius, with slightly lower fuel economy, will be launched this fall.

Prius pickup: Inside Toyota, proponents of a Scion pickup are debating with those who want to expand the Prius brand range. But there is a cost penalty for making a hybrid version of anything, and compact pickups have a cheap point of entry. If it happens, it will be more of a parcel carrier than a cargo hauler. Don't expect this for at least two years.

Avalon: Dealers left their national meeting in Las Vegas in June raving about the Avalon more than the Camry. Arriving in the fall of 2012, the Avalon borrows styling from the Audi A7, Jaguar XJ and some of the more sophisticated Lexus lines. It will keep the 3.5-liter V6 engine, but handling will be improved.

"This is not a geezer pleaser," one dealer said.

FT-86: There was talk of a 300-hp all-wheel-drive version of this new sporty coupe, but as the projected price rose above $30,000 Toyota executives were scared off. Now they are looking at rear-drive and 240 hp from a boxer engine that has a Subaru core but a Toyota head.

Still, that price point might compete with the Scion FR-S, so the FT-86 might be styled as a four-door coupe, not a two-door. Toyota sources say it won't arrive for at least 24 months.

RAV4: The optional 3.5-liter V6 made the current RAV4 a hot rod, but sales are low, and the engine provides more power than the vehicle needs. So expect the re-engineered version coming in the summer of 2012 to offer just the 2.5-liter cylinder engine with a five- or six-speed automatic.

The design will be clean and modern, an evolutionary change off the existing Corolla platform. Toyota and Tesla Motors are working on an electric version of the RAV4 that should debut about the same time, with a real-world 100-mile range. A hybrid model is in the works as well.

Highlander: A five-year cycle means a redesigned Highlanderwill come in the summer of 2012, off the new Camry platform. Expect the four- and six-cylinder engine offerings to be retained and a hybrid powertrain added.

Venza: The Venzacrossover was introduced in the 2009 model year. No major changes are expected, nor is a hybrid version planned.

Sienna: The Siennawas redesigned for the 2011 model year.

FJ Cruiser: The FJ Cruiser is a one-generation vehicle. But the bodywork is outsourced so Toyota will keep selling it until there is no demand.

4Runner: The 4Runner was redesigned for the 2010 model year.

Sequoia: There is a debate going on inside the company about whether to keep this model Tundra-based or switch it to a car-based platform. But a more likely path is to combine the Sequoia nameplate with Land Cruiser as a base model for the flagship SUV. That would happen in the 2014 model year.

Land Cruiser: No major changes are expected until the 2014 model year. The North American market already gets a softer version of the rugged Land Cruiser sold in Australia, Africa and the Middle East, so a move to the Sequoia platform wouldn't be a big deal.

Tacoma: The Tacomaplatform is linked to Toyota's Prado, 4Runner and Hi-Lux in the rest of the world, with frames of different widths for different markets.

The U.S. version will be significantly restyled for the 2012 model year. The sheet metal from the A-pillar forward will be changed. The interior will be new and will include Toyota's new telematics system. Powertrains will remain the same.

Tundra: No major changes for the Tundraare expected until the 2014 model year redesign. Toyota will keep to a two V8 engine strategy because it needs the beefy 5.7-liter for towing capacity.

The redesign is being done in North America. Styling will be more trucklike.

By Mark Rechtin- Automotive News