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Why Toyota Won't Build a Datsun Competitor

By Joel Arellano | March 22, 2012
Nissan's revival of its Datsun brand for emerging markets like Indonesia has car folks wondering if rival Toyota will also be taking the plunge and unleash a slew of sub-$6,000 econoboxes for emerging markets. Well, today, the world's largest Japanese automaker nixed the idea. Thumb's down came from Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota. "We are a full-line automaker," replied Toyoda to a group of reporters. The CEO then went on to discuss Toyota's focus in building quality vehicles, especially reliable ones. Toyota had been hard hit in recent years. In addition to last year's earthquake, tsunami, and monsoon disasters that afflicted Japan and its automakers, Toyota and luxury brand Lexus recalled millions of vehicles worldwide in 2009 and 2010 for various quality issues, tarnishing the company's once solid reputation. Toyota's focus, continued Toyoda, will be to continue to strengthen itself in what he calls the "middle and upper class" buyers in such emerging markets. Toyota would also build on its dominance in hybrids in the same countries as well; the Toyota Prius is the world's best known hybrid vehicles. Toyoda used China as an example of the company's strategy, pointing out that while the emerging powerhouse has a population of over one billion people, Toyota only needs to focus on 200 to 300 million of the population to strike yen. "That's about the size of the whole U.S. market," quipped Toyoda. "It's huge." Automotive.com's take: Stop being so sensible, Toyota, and build that all-new Supra with all-aluminum body; 6.0-liter turbo-diesel V-12 engine offered only with a seven-speed manual transmission with an output of 500 horsepower and 700lb-ft of torque; all the latest electronic and safety gizmos (as long as they come with an off switch); at the maximum price of $18,000 (including destination and handling fee). So you take a slight loss of several tens of thousands per each vehicle sold. Think about all the happy (and few) enthusiasts you'll satisfy! Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
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