The country’s bestselling car is about to get an aluminum makeover. And you can bet that the rest of the auto industry is watching.
The Toyota Camry is the bestselling car in America for 12 years running. With 300,000 models sold in the 2014 calendar year, any design change is a big deal — but it’s an even bigger deal when it sees part of the body change to aluminum. From Automotive News:
Toyota Motor Corp. is set to become the next global automaker to begin making the expensive shift from steel to aluminum for a high-volume vehicle.
The U.S.-built Camry, the country’s best-selling car, is slated to get an aluminum hood in 2018, according to a source familiar with the plans.
Toyota’s first foray into aluminum closures in North America will come next year when the 2016 Lexus RX 350 crossover, which is made in Cambridge, Ontario, gets an aluminum hood and liftgate, the source said.
The aluminum sheet for the Camry hood likely will come from a joint venture between Toyota Tsusho Corp., a trading company affiliated with Toyota Motor Corp., and Kobe Steel to produce more aluminum sheet metal in the U.S. Toyota will be among the venture’s first customers, several sources confirmed. Production is expected to begin in 2017 and ramp up to full output at the beginning of 2018.
What does this mean for the aluminum industry? It’s no longer a grand experiment put on by Ford and Tesla. Or as Monte Kaehr (chief engineer for the 2015 Camry) puts it, “It’s no secret that the entire industry is aggressively pursuing aluminum.”