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Camry tweaks eyed to keep its lead in U.S. sales

Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry, headed for a 12th straight year as the best-selling U.S. car, will get “significant attention,” including freshened features, to hold the title a 13th year, the brand’s U.S. sales chief said.

The Camry led its closest rival, Honda Motor Co.’s Accord, by more than 40,000 units through October, far ahead of Nissan Motor Co.’s Altima and Ford Motor Co.’s revamped Fusion sedan.

Tighter competition in 2014, as Ford boosts Fusion production and Hyundai Motor Co. adds a reworked Sonata, doesn’t guarantee Camry will be knocked from its perch, said Bill Fay, group vice president of the Toyota brand.

“There were some who wanted to write Camry off this year, and it didn’t happen,” Fay said Tuesday in an interview at the Los Angeles Auto Show. “We’ll make some effort through the collective team to keep it No. 1 next year.”

As Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, battles Camry challengers and the best vehicles from U.S.-based competitors in a generation, the firm is targeting its highest U.S. sales in as long as six years. Demand for new cars and trucks, a bright spot for the U.S. economy, remains robust as the year winds down, Fay said.

Combined sales of Toyota, Lexus and Scion autos could total 2.25 million vehicles in 2013, Fay said. That’s up 8.2 percent from last year and the most since an all-time high of 2.62 million in 2007.

Fay declined to elaborate on changes the company is considering for the current Camry, released in 2011 as a 2012 model.

“It’s safe to say we’ll be doing something with it,” he said. “We’ll be paying significant attention to Camry next year.”

Additionally, Toyota expects to sell as many as 240,000 Prius hybrids this year, a record for the U.S..