Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM)’s 2014 Corolla. Photo: Toyota.
It’s no secret that Detroit’s Big Three automakers have been taking back market share in segments that have long been dominated by Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC). Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has especially gained much ground in fuel-efficient sedan segments with its popular Fusion and Focus models. This is great news for domestic auto investors like myself, but of course the No. 1 global sales leader isn’t going to sit by idle. With the weakened yen, it gives Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) an advantage that enables them to load up features without raising the price per vehicle, or simply take more of each revenue dollar to the bank.
It’s unclear how the weak yen advantage will be used, but as Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM)’s Corolla has felt pressure from the Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) Focus, its 2014 model looks to be much more aggressive to take back lost market share — Corolla remains on top of the Focus, but the gap has narrowed quickly.
I’m an honest person, and I always call it as I see it. I’m a Ford guy and have been very pleased with how its new vehicles have grabbed market share aggressively in the U.S. as well as globally. But I also have to give Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) credit for its Corolla, which has sold more than 40 million units in its 47-year life span and sells in 154 countries, making it a true global icon.
This 11th generation of the Corolla needed to be a little bit different, because its segments have been known for bland style and it has rarely seen creative designs. Ford brought a splash to the market with its recent designs that take style cues of the futuristic Evos concept vehicle — which has been a hit with the market. Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM)’s response is the more aggressive styling that goes beyond its typical comfort zone, and it will attempt to attract the same youthful consumers that Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is striking it rich with.
Speaking of youthful consumers, one of the biggest factors to attract this consumer is a tech-savvy and stylish interior.
The Corolla’s interior steps up the game from its outgoing predecessor and creates a stylish and functional space with a more spacious interior to boot. Its use of interior color schemes and trims gives a premium feel and sporty look — all useful elements when attracting a younger consumer. It also is said to have a very quiet cabin during drives, mitigating engine and environment noise through improved acoustic glass and insulation.