Toyota Motor plans to launch a sport utility vehicle (SUV) version of its iconic Crown sedan next year, sources said, overhauling a model that has been a showpiece in the Japanese market for nearly seven decades.
The SUV – which will come in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full-electric models – marks an attempt to make the 67-year-old Crown more relevant as consumers shy away from sedans.
Sales of the hybrid are expected from the summer of 2023 and will include exports to China and North America, while the plug-in hybrid is intended for the domestic market.
The electric model is due to launch in early 2024 and the automaker has yet to finalise export plans, the sources said.
As part of the overhaul, Toyota will also roll out a fully remodelled sedan version of the Crown from this summer. Both the SUV and the sedan will be manufactured at factories in Toyota City, Japan.
A Toyota spokesperson declined to comment.
Largely sold in the domestic market for much of its history, the Crown was the first passenger car developed and built entirely in Japan, marking a pivotal moment in the country’s rise to become a global carmaking giant.
It was also the first car Toyota exported to the US, in 1958. Two years later Toyota was forced to suspend the export, as the engine wasn’t capable of speeds needed on American freeways.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell