I am not part of audience Toyota targets with the Camry. In fact, I’m not in the demographic that Toyota targets with any product in their portfolio. That has not kept me from admiring the slick engineering in Toyotas, though, nor the company’s ability to continually gain market share worldwide by creating vehicles that are well-built and offer a good value to the buyer (read: relatively inexpensive for what you get). Toyota’s aesthetic design, however, has been uninspired, IMO. The cars have almost never begged for a second glance from me.
Until I saw the 2007 Camry. In the new Camry, Toyota has added a gorgeous skin to an already great vehicle (of course, loads under the skin of the 2007 is also new). That’s the one-two punch. The knockout comes from the fact that, like all of its previous Camry brethren, it can be had in its most basic form for a tad over $18K.
The pictures don’t do the car justice – not nearly. You have to see it in person to appreciate how great it looks.
Seeing this car got me thinking about the competitiveness of American car companies (or lack thereof). I’m rooting for them all the way, but it’s not like the bar isn’t always being raised by the competition. It’s just going to plain difficult for the big three (can you consider a German-owned and run Chrysler as part of the big three any more?) to return to the dominant position they once had. Especially with the perception of the American buyer having moved so far overseas.
I was compelled to look up some market data. This is from Fortune Magazine.
Not surprisingly, Toyota’s kicking butt. And, it’s not like Toyota’s the only one out there. Nissan has come back to life after Renault took over (who’da thunk?) and the Koreans are making big headway too. For American auto manufacturers to get any real momentum in their comeback, they’re going to have to do more radical stuff. They don’t even have the luxury of time like the Japanese did when they slowly invaded the American market. Being in Detroit right now is either the best place to be or the worst. Is your glass half full or . . .