Toyota North America CEO: Cars aren’t dead

Cars aren’t dead yet, according to Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz, despite an industry he describes as primarily dominated by SUVs.

“We still have SUVs but we still believe in passenger cars,” Lentz told FOX Business’ Jeff Flock on Monday from the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.  “The industry is about 70 percent light truck – we’re only 62 percent. We’re always going to skew a little heavier towards passenger than the rest of the industry.”

However, by 2020 the U.S. car industry may look completely different. Ford recently announced that almost 90 percent of its North America model lineup will consist of trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles. And GM said it will halt production at five North American factories and slash 15 percent of its salaried workforce to keep up with consumer demand for crossovers.

However, unlike its competitors, who have chosen to unveil flashy new trucks and SUVs at this year’s auto show, Toyota is debuting the new Supra sports car after more than 20 years.

“This is about fun-to-drive,” said Lentz. “And when you think of Toyota what first pops in your mind is quality, dependability, reliability and safety. This creates that halo of fun.”

In 2018, Toyota was the No. 1 retail selling brand for seven consecutive years. The Toyota Camry dominated as one of the best-selling sedans in America.