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Auto blogTue, 26 Feb 2013 07:58:00 EST
The 2013 Toyota Camry is officially the car of the year in Korea. The country's motoring press graced the Japanese sedan with the honor for the first time, officially marking a shift in prevailing Korean attitudes toward Japan and its products. According to industry analysts, buyers in the country are no longer simply choosing their purchases based on whether or not they're made in South Korea, but rather based on quality and personal choice. That's a big jump from a few years ago, when buyers viewed their purchases through a patriotic lens.
The Camry managed to edge out a total of 44 other cars, including hardware from both Hyundai and Kia, to become the first foreign vehicle to take home the Korea Automobile Journalist Association's Car of the Year award. As The Detroit News points out, just 10 years ago, domestic manufacturers held some 99 percent of the Korean car market. But a change in trade regulations has opened up the country considerably, and buyers now have access to a wide range of products from around the globe. As a result, Hyundai and Kia have countered by cutting prices in an attempt to keep their grip on the market.
Every year when we start talking about which automaker is the biggest in the world, there always seems to be at least a little bit of controversy. For 2013, Toyota handily took the top spot with 9.98 million sales, but it's the runner up spot between General Motors and Volkswagen that is starting to create a stir.
Based on our earlier report, GM's 9.71 million vehicles put it in second place ahead of VW's 9.5-million-vehicle effort. Now, The Detroit News is reporting that VW is claiming a tally of 9.73 million sales, including figures from MAN and Scania - heavy-duty truck divisions under the VW AG family. The article points out that Toyota's sales figure includes its Hino line of trucks, but these might still be considered light-duty vehicles while MAN and Scania build tractor trailers.
Toyota is not bullish on EVs. That comes from the company's North American CEO, Jim Lentz, who said the company will focus not on electrification, but on continued hybridization with a long-term focus on hydrogen fuel cells.
Lentz questioned the long-range ability of EVs, saying that Toyota feels "there are better alternatives, such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and tomorrow with fuel cells." Lentz spoke about Toyota's focus on hydrogen following Forbes Brainstorm Green conference and barely a week after a battery deal between Tesla and Toyota ended, according to Automotive News.
That deal provided for 2,500 battery packs for the Rav4 EV. While valuable to Toyota, the deal "was never about open-ended volume," Lentz said. "It was time to either continue or stop. My personal feeling was that I would rather invest my dollars in fuel cell development than in another 2,500 EVs."