just-auto.com

USA: Toyota after (slightly) younger buyers for next Avalon

By just-auto.com editorial team | 29 September 2004

Although Toyota says the average age of buyers is unlikely to change much, the redesigned '05 Avalon reportedly will be more stylish in an attempt to draw interest from a younger clientele.

Toyota US marketing head Jim Lentz told WardsAuto that, though he admits it's unlikely the fullsize sedan ever will appeal to buyers in their mid-thirties, the new, more stylish Avalon will draw interest from those in their late 40s and early 50s.

 "I think we'll appeal to a younger buyer," Lentz told Ward's at a Toyota event held to mark a new advertising campaign. "We're not going to be able to get that average age down there, but I think as you look at the Bell curve of what we're getting, we'll be able to shift that a little further left and be able to pick up some younger buyers."

Lentz reportedly said the average age of Avalon owners is 62, some 14 years older than the typical Toyota-brand vehicle owner (48). Corolla S buyers are the youngest of Toyota's customers, with an average age of 30, give or take a couple years, he said.

"You may see some traits of looking for a younger audience, without turning off our niche crowd," a Toyota spokesman added, according to WardsAuto. He promised the new car "will solidify itself as the flagship vehicle for Toyota."

Lentz told the trade magazine that the styling of Chrysler's acclaimed 300 "is probably a bit much (for Toyota's tastes). I personally like (the 300), but that's a typical reaction of males, not necessarily females. It's a real polarising car. I don't think Avalon will be nearly as polarizing as that but it's a definite departure and improvement from the current generation."

Lentz reportedly described the '05 Avalon's exterior appearance as "much more sleek and stylish" than the previous generation.

WardsAuto said the '05 Avalon will be the third generation of the car that debuted in the US in the '95 model year, filling a gap left by the discontinuation of the Cressida after 1991. The second-generation Avalon launched in the '00 model year.

A derivative of the first-generation model sharing many Camry components is also built and sold by Toyota Australia.

According to WardsAuto, US Avalon sales were down in August at 2,884 units, a drop from 4,945 in like-2003. Both calendar year-to-date and model year-to-date sales were tracking down, as well, off 26.4% (26,330 units Jan.-Aug.) and 27.6% (37,125 units), respectively.

The new model goes on sale next February, the report said.