Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Toyota Motor Corp. has decided to give its Camry Solara convertible a reprieve in the U.S. market, an official says here at the 2008 Management Briefing Seminars.

The Camry-based Solara ragtop was set to go out of production this year at the same time as the coupe version of the midsize car ends its run. Convertibles made up 70% of the Solara production mix in the ’08 model year, Ward’s data shows.

But Steve St. Angelo, senior vice president-Toyota Motor Engineering and Mfg. North America Inc., says the auto maker will continue building the drop-top for another two years at the Georgetown, KY, plant.

“It was a car that our customers demanded; they wanted it,” he says. “It’s a beautiful car. When I drive a Solara convertible, many people think it’s a Lexus. I was pushing (for continuing the production run) because I wanted to challenge our team and our flexibility.”

Toyota still plans to build 75,000 of its new Venza cross/utility vehicle in Georgetown annually, so it will shift some Camry output to Georgetown’s plant No.1 or, if needed, to Subaru of Indiana Inc.’s plant in Lafayette to make room for the continued run of Solara convertibles.

Toyota, a stakeholder in the Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., already builds some Camry sedans at the Lafayette plant.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com