Toyota is celebrating a pair of key milestones this year with its long-running Camry and RAV4 models.
For the Camry, it’s news that the current seventh-generation model has pushed the badge to more than 850,000 Australian sales, 32 years on from its first local appearance as an award-winning imported liftback.
The Camry has been built in Australia since the second generation launched in 1987, making ours the first market outside of Japan to produce the model locally.
Successive years have seen Toyota Australia’s manufacturing investment in the Camry range continue through to today’s model, which launched in 2011.
Importantly, the Camry also made history as the first Australian-built hybrid range, while also adding electric power steering, electronic brake control, regenerative braking and electric air-conditioning to its list of ‘Australian firsts’.
“Untenable” market conditions will see Toyota end its Australian manufacturing program in the near future, but not before the recently revealed 2015 update to the Camry range fills slots on the local production line.
Elsewhere in the Toyota range, the RAV4 SUV is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, following its Australian debut in 1994.
The RAV4 range has seen four generations so far, after first appearing as the ‘RAV-FOUR’ concept at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show.
History says that the concept’s chief engineer, Masakatsu Nonaka, had a hard time convincing his bosses that there would be value in producing a model for the fledgling compact SUV market.
(Toyota claims it was the first to offer a compact SUV, but motoring mogul Bob Lutz would tell you a different story...)
Toyota says it has sold more than five million RAV4 models across 150 countries, including 228,677 in Australia.
The first-generation RAV4 registered just 1350 sales here in 1994, growing to average “well over” 14,000 per year in the past decade.
In 2014, with a 6.2 percent increase over the same period in 2013, the midsized RAV4 is on track to better last year’s 16,983 Australian sales.
"A driving force in the surging popularity of SUVs in Australia, RAV4 is more popular than ever with sales rising to an all-time record last year - a feat that is set to be beaten this year,” Toyota sales boss Tony Cramb said this week.