Camry will unlikely win again in China
The Toyota Camry was one of the greatest cars in Chinese market. Although the latecomer was launched in 2006, it became a best selling mid-size car instantly in 2007 and 2008. However, the new generation is unlikely to win the market again.
The exterior of current Guangzhou-made Camry is specially designed for Chinese and Australian market, rather than the original version. In Australia, it is called Aurion, powered by a 3.5 liter V6 engine and posited above the original Camry. But in China (mainland) and Taiwan, consumers can only buy the Aurion version, which is also named Camry, since the original one is unavailable.
Thanks to the more virile front and rear-end design, Camry is welcomed in China as a saloon for both business use and family use.
The new Camry US version, global version, Japanese version have unveiled successively, the new Chinese version should be coming soon. According to report, the current 2.4 liter inline-4 engine will be replaced by a 2.5 liter engine, while the current 2.0 liter engine will be retained. The 3.5 liter V6 engine may be rejected again, because few Chinese buyers like to choose a 6-cylinder engine in this segment.
If no design breakthrough appears in Chinese version compared with the US and global version, Camry can hardly win again in the market. Its rivals are improving quickly these years, while the Camry is standing still.
Five years ago, when first Camry rolled off the line in China, it was one of the largest cars in the mid-size segment, just behind Nissan Teana and the Buick LaCrosse, but longer than Honda Accord, old Passat (B5 LWB), Mondeo, Mazda 6, etc. Moreover, the redesigned headlamp and radiator grille shows more vigour.
However, during the five years, all rivals have grown bigger and more luxurious, including the new VW Passat (NMS for America and China), new VW Magotan (Passat B7 LWB), Skoda Superb, new Accord (US version), new Teana, new Mondeo and new LaCrosse, etc. But what can the new Camry do? Although Chinese version can redesign the front and rear end based on the US version, it can hardly be much bigger and luxurious, because the wheelbase is stretched for zero millimeters and the profile is too conservative.
Additionally, too many rivals are equipped with turbocharged direct injection engine and double clutch transmission, while new CamryÃ¢s outdated VVT-i engine with just 0.1 liter more displacement can attract few consumers.
This is a miniature story of Japanese carmakersÃ¢ downturn in China. When every maker introduces existing models to China, Japanese cars really suit this market better. But when European and American makers design cars specially for China, Japanese global models will unlikely win again.