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Toyota Crown family of models aims globally – Automotive News

by Oct 24, 2022Blog0 comments

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Toyota Motor Corp. is planning three additional body types to follow its traditional Crown sedan entry, creating a line of premium offerings that straddle the all-popular utility vehicle segment.
On tap for Crown are a large crossover wagon, a sporty coupe-styled crossover, and a jacked-up crossover-inspired family four-door.
So far, only the high-riding crossover four-door is officially slotted for the U.S. But engineers see big potential for some of the other variants with U.S. consumers, as Toyota goes global with a nameplate that has been Japan-only for decades. The Crown will now be offered in 40 countries and regions.
Diversifying the sedan will create a new top-end family of vehicles for Toyota, next to its mass-market middling Corolla collection and its entry-level Yaris series. Those lower-range nameplates already have multiple spinoffs from their base platforms; the Corolla alone has five body types globally.
In an earlier era, the Crown also had a coupe variant. But throughout its 67-year history, the Crown has been mostly perceived as a staid family sedan — and relegated to Toyota’s home market.
But in a changing world, Toyota sees big benefits from branching out with the Crown.
For starters, Toyota can leverage the same product development and manufacturing resources to offer a wider range of vehicles that appeal to a wider cross section of customers.
And by taking the new Crown series overseas, Toyota expects to generate more sales to prop up production volumes in Japan. That will help Toyota make good on President Akio Toyoda’s pledge to preserve Japanese factory output of 3 million vehicles a year.
The Crown initially will be exported from the Motomachi assembly plant in Toyota City, the factory that has made the car since 1959 and is in need of more work. Total output there has steadily dropped, peaking at 445,000 units in 1990 and falling to just 41,000 vehicles in 2020.
“The battle that lies in store for the new Crown is not about beating competitors,” Toyoda said in 2012 when unveiling the 14th-generation Crown. “It is a fight to revive the Japanese market and keep Japanese manufacturing alive.”
In July, the Toyota chief struck a similar tone when he introduced the massively overhauled 16th-generation Crown. “I would be more than happy if we could help restore vitality to Japan by making the Crown a Japanese car loved round the world.”
Over the years, Motomachi has morphed into a boutique maker of small-volume niche vehicles. This year, it started making the updated Noah and Voxy tall vans and the Toyota bZ4X electric vehicle, in addition to the Crown. Later this year, the Lexus RZ all-electric crossover will be added.
The company wants to initially sell 200,000 Crowns a year worldwide, across all variants. Deliveries of the first model — a hybrid-only fastback crossover-sedan mashup riding on oversized tires — began Sept. 1 in Japan. Here it is being positioned as a crossover. In the U.S., the model is billed as a lift-up sedan, and arrives early next year as a 2023 model.
Toyota already has 25,000 orders for the car in Japan — pushing the wait list to at least six months. Toyota expects Japan to be the biggest global market for the Crown.
As the signature variant of the reworked 16th-generation Crown series, the lift-up sedan cuts an intriguing silhouette. It stood out on the road during a recent test drive through Yokohama, just south of Tokyo. The car’s styling seems aggressive and sporty from the front and side, but a bit frumpy and bulbous from the back, with a round tail and steeply raked rear window.
It calls to mind the BMW X4 or X6 sports activity coupes, the Audi Q5 Sportback or even the ill-fated Honda Crosstour, which was killed in the U.S. after six years of lackluster sales.
In the U.S., the Crown will replace the outgoing Avalon sedan as the Toyota brand’s flagship, Akihiro Sarada, chief engineer of the Crown series, said on the sidelines of the test drive.
The other Crown variants include a creased and muscular compact crossover, called the Crown Athlete, or Sport type; a sleek and elegant traditional sedan called the Crown Royal; and a high-riding large crossover dubbed the Crown Majesta, also known as the Estate in Japan.
Sarada said all four will be on the market in Japan by the end of 2023.
Sarada declined to say which other variants might arrive in the U.S., but he sees particular potential for the large crossover because it is the longest and tallest, standing 5 feet, 4 inches.
“Our intention is an SUV-wagon fusion,” Sarada said. “It’s big with a sleek, utility-type body.”
The lift-up sedan tops out at 5 feet, 1 inch. Both vehicles are 16 feet, 2 inches long.
So far, the Crown comes only in two hybrid drivetrains. But the raised platform, elevated by either 19-inch or 21-inch tires, was designed with diverse powertrains in mind, including all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell setups, Sarada said. The big wheels might help accommodate thick underfloor battery packs — or even hydrogen tanks, as they do in the Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedan.
“We don’t know about the timing, but we were thinking about the future and about multi-path carbon-neutral solutions,” Sarada said. “We inputted that in the development phase.”
Flexibility is a key element of product planning today at Toyota. Globally, the Corolla already has five family members — a sedan, wagon, crossover, hatchback and the sporty GR racer. And the Yaris has a hatchback, crossover and a GR offering.
At the Crown’s debut in July, Toyoda posed with all four Crown variants on stage, touting the family’s diversity as its strength.
“For a mass-market carmaker, the flagship must come with a full lineup,” Toyoda said.
“With this series, we will once again take on the world.”
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