Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday launched revamped Corolla models — the 10th time the best-selling car that spearheaded the nation’s motorization in the 1960s has been changed — in the hope of stimulating the sluggish market.
“We developed the new Corollas to change the conventional image,” Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told a news conference in Tokyo. “We hope the new Corollas will be the choice of customers.”
The Corolla series was the top seller in Japan for 33 straight years until 2002 and is still a popular first car worldwide.
Since the introduction of the first model 40 years ago, Toyota has sold more than 30 million. The series currently sells in 140 economies, the automaker said.
Sales of cars with engine displacements of more than 660cc dropped 7 percent year-on-year between April and September as demand in the auto market has diversified, with more people opting for cheaper, more fuel-efficient minivehicles.
Watanabe said the automaker hopes to win back customers who favor the minicar with its remodeled Corollas — Toyota’s flagship series in the compact car segment.
The new Corolla sedan, named the Corolla Axio, features a back seat that can easily be changed into storage space.
The new Axio and the Corolla Fielder wagon also feature a crash safety system that tries to avoid or minimize the impact of a collision.
When the distance between a car and the vehicle ahead lessens to a point at which a sensor detects a collision might be possible, the vehicle system automatically reduces the car’s speed and tightens the seat belts.
Watanabe said these features were once only intended for high-end models, but Toyota incorporated them to upgrade the new Corollas.
The Corollas will cost between 1.4 million yen and 2.23 million yen, and the combined monthly sales target is 12,000 units.
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