The name Camry is almost synonymous with Toyota. It would be unthinkable for Toyota to kill its bread-and-butter model off in the US, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Japan. Today, Toyota notified its Japanese dealers that Camry production would eventually wind down by the end of the year, concluding a 43-year history of sales in its home country.
As reported by the Nikkei, Toyota has already halted most of the orders for the Camry in Japan. In some ways it’s the end of an era, but the Camry was never as big a deal in Japan as it was in the America. Since its debut in 1980, Toyota has sold about 1.3 million of them in Japan. Compare that to the 13 million that have been sold in America.
A big part of the sales discrepancy can be attributed to the fact that in Japan, for most of the Camry’s lifespan, Toyota sold two other sedans that were nearly the exact same size. The Mark X and Crown were not only more luxurious and had better name recognition, but were also rear-wheel-drive.
For several years in the 90s the Japanese Camry and the US Camry were completely different models as well. Those were arguably the Camry’s best years in the US, but the Japanese Camrys were narrower to keep within certain road tax brackets based on exterior dimensions. From about 2001 onward, the V6-equipped models were no longer sold in Japan, and from 2011 onward only the hybrid was available.
The Nikkei reports that the culprit for the cancellation is — no surprise here — the popularity of SUVs and crossovers. The nameplate will live on in other markets, including the US. Currently the Camry is sold in over a hundred countries around the world.