Posted Jan 25th 2015 2:00PM
What was the biggest takeaway from the auto industry's 2014? Besides the fact that recalls are now a sad and mostly unremarkable part of a vehicle's life, it's that you can't be a competitive, mainstream brand in North America without a really strong line of crossovers, SUVs or pickups. We saw evidence of this as recently as Monday, when Hyundai unveiled its HCD-15 Santa Cruz Concept, and now we're seeing it again with Toyota.
The company already has a comprehensive lineup of both mainstream and luxury CUVs and SUVs, although surging demand – sales were up 16 per cent last year, Bloomberg reports – has led the company to increase its production tempo at the plants responsible for the RAV4 and Lexus RX.
"The freeze is still in place until the end of March of 2016," Toyota's Jim Lentz told Bloomberg during this week's Detroit Auto Show, referencing the production bump at the Japanese and Canadian factories responsible for the models. "That hasn't changed. All indications are that it will lift, but right now it has not lifted."
The increased sales are even spurring the brand to consider additional CUVs, including a compact that would slot in below the RAV4, Lentz told the business publication. Such a move would give Toyota a player in an increasingly competitive and important segment. In 2014 alone, mainstream brands, including Honda, Mazda, Chevrolet and Jeep, have announced brand new products destined for the compact CUV market.
"We're going to have to look at how the market under RAV4 develops," Lentz told Bloomberg. "There's no question that it's going to. That's going to be the next growth spurt."