Making a Classic FF Vehicle
released on September 2008
The oil shocks of the 1970s had a significant impact on the global automobile industry, especially in the United States, where the country was pushed into an unprecedented period of energy conservation. As a result, automakers began putting their collective efforts into developing more fuel efficient, smaller Front-engine Front-drive (FF) vehicles. While Toyota earlier had marketed an economical FF vehicle with the Tercel, the company decided it wanted to produce a "high-class small FF passenger vehicle" for export. That vehicle became known as the Camry (based on the Japanese word kanmuri, meaning "crown").
In March 1982, the Camry made its debut as a global strategic vehicle for Toyota, and auto enthusiasts hailed it as the first of a new generation of FF cars. The first Camrys were exported to the United States in January 1983, and by 1985 total Camry exports had reached 128,000 units, making it one of Toyota's main products.
With the subsequent release of the second and third generation models, the Camry continued to grow in popularity around the world — due to its improved performance, levels of comfort and quietness. Activities related to ramping up full-scale planning and production in the U.S., as well as the start of local production in Australia, also added momentum to the marketing of the car.
When the fourth and fifth generation models took both comfort and practicality to the next level, the Camry went on to become the bestselling car in the U.S. four years in a row and was well-received in more than 100 countries and regions. By December 2001, the Camry was already selling approximately 600,000 units worldwide annually and formed the backbone of Toyota. The Camry would go on to become the third Toyota vehicle after the Corolla and the Hilux to hit the 10 million sales milestone.
In spite of this success, the key sedan market for the Camry in the U.S. had begun shrinking, competitors were introducing new and improved models and public perception of the Camry as a conservative car affected sales. Looking to address these challenges, the Camry design team undertook a cross continental drive of the U.S. and, through visits to the homes of Camry owners, gained a glimpse into their daily lives and received direct feedback about the car.
January 2006 saw the unveiling of the sixth generation model Camry at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit — before it was launched in North America in March of the same year — to an overwhelmingly positive public. In addition to being manufactured in Japan, production of the Camry has expanded to eight other factories in seven countries and regions, most recently at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Russia in December 2007.
The sixth generation Camry was the first Toyota sedan to be offered in both conventional engine and hybrid editions. In response to the increased demand for hybrid vehicles in North America, Toyota began marketing the Camry Hybrid throughout the region in May 2006. Currently, Toyota is producing the hybrid model at the Tsutsumi Plant and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK), and, in the near future, production will expand to Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Ltd. and Toyota Motor Thailand Co., Ltd. By offering customers more model choices, Toyota continues to work towards maintaining the Camry's position as one of the leading FF vehicles on the market.